There are a lot of questions to be answered early in the season for the boys at Salina South.
After earning seven senior degrees, including all five starters, the Cougars will discover each other early when they speak against Salina Central on Friday at South Gym.
South, who finished 16-5 a year ago, sends just one player with significant college experience out of last year’s squad. Junior Te’Jon McDaniel, a 6-foot-3 forward, averaged 5.5 points in his sophomore year.
The rest will be filled with players who were on the roster but haven’t played much with all of the seniors.
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“(They) had the chance to train against these guys every day and they’ve grown a lot over the last year, even though they haven’t had the chance to come out and show it on varsity ground.” , said South coach Jason Hooper, entering his ninth season. “They are all looking forward to the opportunity to go out there and prove what they can do.”
McDaniel, who was one of three Cougars to leave the bench last year, has already built on what he learned from seniors and set an example for young players.
“He’s definitely a leader and a guy the other guys respect where he’s coming from with the minutes he got last year,” Hooper said. “He’s done well with this group of kids. We’ll need him to score the ball this year.
“Just being comfortable on the floor and getting those minutes last year is going to go a long way.”
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Two players who received minimal playing time last year but are expected to see their toles increase are 5-10 goalie Carter Copes and 6-5 post Zach Davidson, both senior.
“There were a lot of these kids who wanted to have their chance last year, and that didn’t come,” Hooper said. “This year they have their chance and now it’s just an opportunity for the guys to come out and prove that they can compete at this level and be successful.”
Some newcomers to watch out for are Senior 5-10 goaltender Devin Myers who transferred from Leavenworth in the offseason, senior forward Edgar Garcia 6-4 and 6-foot sophomore Quevon Purucker.
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After opening with Central, the Cougars host Buhler on Tuesday before wrapping up their pre-Christmas roadside program at Goddard Eisenhower (December 10), Maize South (December 14) and Hutchinson (December 17).
“At the end of the day, we’re looking ahead and we know every game on our schedule is going to affect that year-end sub-state situation when you rank it 1-16,” Hooper said. “Every game is important. Getting out of the gates against Central is going to be fun. It’s a good opportunity for our kids to come out and compete with the guys (from) across town.
“We have to go out on the road and get tested early. Later in the season we’ll have some of these games in our own gym. At that point, hopefully, we’ll kind of know who we are and what they are. are our strengths and weaknesses. ”
SALINA SUD BOYS
The Head Coach: Jason Hooper (9th grade, 80-89).
Record from last year: 16-5.
Return inputs (1): Te’Jon McDaniel, 6-3, jr., F.
Other top returning players: Carter Copes, 5-10, sr., G; Zach Davidson, 6-5 years old, father, F.
DECEMBER: 3, Salina Central; 7, Bühler; 10, to Eisenhower; 14, in Maïs Sud; 17, to Hutchinson.
JANUARY: 4, in Derby; 7, to Corn; 11, Newton; 14, campus; 20-22, Salina Invitational.
FEBRUARY: 1, in the center; 4, southern corn; 8, Hutchinson; 11, Derby; 15, at the Campus; 18, Newton; 22, corn; 24, to Goddard.
Dylan Sherwood has been a sports reporter for the Salina Journal since August 2019. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @DSherwoodSJ