By Dave Wagner
With six of his top seven players back off a 12-2 squad, Faith Triumphant boys basketball coach Shawn Kelly is optimistic about the new season.
“Our first five ought to be great,” Kelly said. “All of them have played for me since junior high. They know each other pretty well, and they understand the game too.”
FTCS has 12 boys out for the team, Kelly said. The starters are expected to be 5-7 senior guard Luis McCain, 6-1 senior guard-forward Eric Cathey, 6-2 junior post Caleb Richards, 5-8 junior point guard Seth Pearson and 5-9 junior forward-post Tim Smith.
The first man off the bench is sophomore guard Hayden Goff.
“We don’t have a lot of size, but we’re pretty quick,” said Kelly, a FTCS graduate who is entering his fifth season as coach. “We rely more than anything on discipline and not turning the ball over.”
Pearson is expected to take over most of the point guard duties for the only starter lost to graduation, J.J. Johnson. McCain and Richards both averaged more than 25 points a game last season for the Conquerors.
“We should have a real strong team,” Richards said. “We’ll have good numbers, too, to give us a rest If we need it.”
The Conquerors play as an independent, and thus won’t have a postseason. It’s just something they deal with, Kelly said.
“Our first interest is the kids, so until we find something that fits us we’ll be pretty happy with where we’re at,” he said.
Faith Triumphant, which played its final football game on Saturday, has a quick turnaround with the basketball opener scheduled for Friday at Hereford Community Christian.
“I think we’ll be ready,” Richards said. “It’s a lot easier to practice for basketball, since most kids have a goal at their homes.”
Kelly said the players, many of whom were on the football team, are anxious for the change in seasons.
“They were already talking basketball before the (football) season ended,” he said. “I’m sure in a couple or three days they’ll be ready.”
Meantime, the FTCS girls are playing essentially a junior varsity schedule this year under coach Jessica Roberts. There are only three girls in the high school, all of whom play and Roberts, who coached the junior high girls last year, will fill in with two eighth graders and three seventh graders.
The returnees are junior guard Victoria Payen, sophomore point guard Cassie Paden and sophomore post Danielle Turner.
“Our junior high girls really have to step up and play at a JV level,” said Roberts, also an FTCS grad. “I think they’re going to be tough; they kind of have to be.
“My seventh and eighth graders are going to get such good experience. By the time they get to the ninth and 10th grades, we’ll be a much stronger team.”
Faith Triumphant schedule
Boys and girls unless noted
All Times MST
11 — at Hereford Community Christian, 5/6 p.m.; 16 — Clovis Gattis (G), 5 p.m.; 19 — Amarillo Home School, 6 p.m.; 22 — Elida (B), 6 p.m.; 30 — at Lubbock All Saints, 4/5 p.m.
7 — at Lubbock Christ the King, 4/5 p.m.; 9 — Hereford Community Christian (G), 5 p.m.; 13 — at Elida (B), 6 p.m.; 143 — at Amarillo Home School, 5/6 p.m.
7 — Amarillo Bible Heritage (B), TBA; 11 — Lubbock All Saints (G), 3:30 p.m.; 14 — Lubbock Home School (B), 6 p.m.; 20 — at Clovis Gattis, 4/5 p.m.; 24 — Lubbock Christ the King, 4/5 p.m.; 31 — Hereford Community Christian, 5/7 p.m.
4 — at Lubbock Home School (B), 6 p.m.; 10 — Ajmarillo Bible Heritage (B), TBA.