Sweat flowed freely as Heritage boys basketball coach Jentry Byleveld pushed the pace at the Nov. 15 basketball practice.
“We are young, inexperienced and untried so we will play an up-tempo style this season,” he said during a break in the practice. “We graduated six seniors so we have just one player with us this season that was on varsity last year. It is a good thing that our junior varsity was young with five freshmen on the team that had a decent season. That is important because it means all our kids have experience playing Eagles basketball.”
He said the Eagles will be a transition team.
“We have to play good defense. Good defense is how we can stay with the teams in our league,” Byleveld said. “Our practice drills are designed to develop the fast-paced style at both ends of the court. The practices also focus on helping the guys who were on JV make the step up to varsity. We also hope that, working together, the team develops great chemistry and teamwork.”
The coach said he is pleased with the effort the players are putting into practice. He also said he is happy about the turnout for basketball this season.
“The varsity is young and so is the remainder of the program,” he said. “We have 70 guys out for our teams and 35 of them are freshmen so the future of Heritage basketball looks strong.”
Senior Trevor Young is the only player on this year’s team who played for the varsity last season.
“I want to do all I can to help our team,” he said. “I want to work to always play my best and I want to do what I can to share with my teammates what I learned playing varsity last season.”
Young talked about making the transition from junior varsity to varsity last season.
“Moving from JV to varsity is definitely a step up in competition level,” he said. “The varsity opponents are bigger, they have great skills and the pace of the game is faster. The adjustment requires both physical and mental adjustments. I feel the mental part of the game is very important. You have to be thinking all the time so you can take advantage of an opening to drive to the hoop or get a pass to a teammate who is in position for a high-percentage shot.”
Young played both forward and guard last season but this year he will be primarily playing guard.
“As a guard, I will be handling the ball a lot more and I will be dribbling the ball more than I did last season,” he said. “I am working hard to improve my skills in both those areas and working on accuracy so when I have the opportunity to take a shot that I will hit it.”
The time to prepare for the season is short. Official practice began Nov. 10, the Eagles host a scrimmage with Cherry Creek and Abraham Lincoln on Nov. 22 and they open their season in Reno, Nevada, on Dec. 1.
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