By Brandon Walker EBS EDITORIAL ASSISTANT
BIG SKY – Team sports are more than just a matter of fundamentals. As high school athletes mature, team chemistry plays a large role in a team’s collective ability on the field or court. When it comes to basketball, spectators witness the tangibles such as fast-break layups, bounce passes and free-throws, but what is not immediately visible may be what is most important. Team chemistry and continuity are a resounding theme for the 2019-2020 Lone Peak Big Horns varsity basketball team.
After graduating four seniors last season, maintaining team morale will be a priority, according to LPHS captain Frankie Starz. “I think we’re going to be closer together this year and we’re going to play better and communicate better with each other,” the senior guard said.
Going hand-in-hand with team chemistry is a sense of identity when it comes to a team’s performance. Senior forward Isaac Gilmore is optimistic that LPHS has found that identity with the continued presence of first-year head coach John Hannahs and newcomer, assistant coach Dave Magistrelli. “We’ve had a new coach all four years of high school, so it’s kind of a new change every year. We’ve had Hannahs as our assistant coach, so he’s been here for as long as I’ve been here. It’s a bit easier to adapt to a new coach when you’ve been with him for a while,” Gilmore said.
Getting back to the tangible aspects of the game, the Big Horns believe they have a speed-driven, sharp-shooting offense to accompany new defensive tactics this season. “It is early yet, but the thing that sticks out to me so far is our speed. We are a fast team. That could be a huge strength for us,” Hannahs said. Senior guard Austin Samuels feels that that speed will bolster the offensive production for LPHS this season. “I think we’re going to run a lot this year and hopefully put up a lot of points,” he said.
Basketball is a game of runs and a team needs to string together a strong performance throughout the entire game to have the best chance of coming away with a victory. Hannahs and Samuels were in agreement that inconsistency crept up on their team from time to time last season. Gilmore, Samuels and Starz lead a quartet of seniors hoping to change that for the Big Horns this year. “Last year, we had flashes of brilliance when we were downright scary, but they weren’t consistent. I am looking to build on that so we can put together four quarters of great basketball and make it a game-to-game habit,” Hannahs said.
Every team would like to score as many points as possible, but Hannahs and Magistrelli are stressing defense in the early going, hoping that will be a staple of their game that the team can hang its hat on.
Collectively, the entire team is hopeful for what the season will have in store. “Just through our first few practices I think this is the best we’ve looked in the beginning of a season since I’ve been in high
–school. I’m pretty excited to say that because I do think we’re going to have a great season,” Gilmore said. “There’s a lot of new freshman,” Starz said. “But it’s going to be special and I hope it turns out well.”
The Big Horns will play their first game on Dec. 7 at the Hybrid Tip Off Jamboree taking on the Absarokee Huskies at home.