The 2019 edition of the Washington Warriors boys basketball team will showcase an athletic but inexperienced group.
The Warriors graduated 10 seniors off last year’s roster. They return a lone senior this season in Colton Ross.
Gone from last year are Tyler Knight, Jackson Adams, Manuel Trejo, Kade Hendrix, Harrison Keeler, Joseph David, Preston Milligan, Nathan Ladlee, Kaleb Kilcrease and Alex Foster.
Washington began the season ranked No. 10 in Class 3A.
The Warriors are in a rush to get team chemistry where it needs to be after adding several football players to the roster last week when the gridiron Playoff run came to an end.
“We were preseason No. 10, which might be a little high this early, but after we get some more playing experience we have the potential to be a top ten team,” Washington Head Coach TJ Scholz said. “We’ll get guys some games and more development. We’re very athletic and we’ll put fundamentals together on top of that.”
Washington will look to Aden Hyde, Hayden Keeler, Luke Hendrix, Jaxon Sanchez, Graham Schovanec, Kobe Scott and Hector Quinonez, aside from Ross, to play significant minutes this season. Scholz said depth and athleticism will be strengths for the team this year and could play 10-12 boys each night.
The group is young and relatively inexperienced but Scholz is optimistic for this season.
“We have good pieces to the team this year to go with good guard play,” Scholz said. “We haven’t had as much length in the past and this will be good for us defensively.”
Washington will rely on underclassmen, including multiple freshman to carry the water.
In Washington’s 67-54 loss to Purcell last week sophomore Luke Hendrix led the team in scoring with 14 points, followed by freshman Hayden Hicks with 12.
“We have three sophomores who can all score,” Scholz said. “Schovanec can drive to the bucket and (freshman) Cash Andrews is a potential point guard. Colton Ross is definitely going to score and he’s a good leader too.”
Scholz said his team will use the games they play before the Christmas break to gel as a team and they’ll be adding more defenses and offensive plays into their game plans as the players get comfortable.
“We’ll mix up the defenses this year,” Scholz said. “Since we have some length this year we can slip into a zone as a change of pace. We can do that more with the talent we have.”
Scholz said his team had an off-night shooting the ball against Purcell.
“They pressured and created some turnovers,” he said. “Our guys are learning the speed of the game and getting used to varsity versus JV.”
Hendrix, Scott, Quinonez, Hyde and Ross got the nod as the starting five against Purcell. It was the first start for each of them.
Scholz is entering his fifth year at Washington, where he has a 60-49 record.
His overall record is 85-73.
The Washington girls are every bit as youthful as their counterparts on the boys team.
Washington Head Coach Rocky Clarke starts one junior, two sophomores and two freshmen.
His team is as athletic as they are inexperienced.
“Our strength this year is our speed,” Clarke said. “We have enough speed to be good.”
Sophomore Mattie Richardson is one of the most athletic players in the conference and also returns with starting experience after being in the rotation last season.
Junior Laylin Scheffe also returns with plenty of playing experience, as does Kaytin McKay.
“We’re young this year but the outlook is for us to get better, better and better,” Clarke said. “We’ll just progress and get more organized as we go. I know it will happen.”
They have large voids to replace from last year’s team.
Gone from last year’s State tournament team is All-Stater and current Rice Owl freshman Katelyn Crosthwait.
Crosthwait is the Warrior’s all-time leading scorer with 2,333 points, which is also No. 20 for the state in all-time 5-on-5 scoring.
The Warriors also graduated Delaney Beller, Kassi Hyde and Gracie Wells.
So far this season turnovers have been Washington’s Achilles heal.
They had 27 turnovers in their 41-39 loss to Lexington Friday night.
They also struggled with Purcell’s press the Tuesday before and fell to the Dragons 49-39.
“Our ball handling skills were not like I would like for them to happen,” Clarke said. “But it’s not like we’re bad; we’re young. I’d like us to get a little more organized, and we will.”
Clarke also believes Lexington might be the best team in the conference.
“I’m extremely proud of their effort,” he said. “All you can ask for is for them to play hard and don’t give up. I’m excited for what this season can offer.”