The Mansfield Legacy boys basketball team is looking to rebound from a losing season in 2015-2016, and coach Cornelius Mitchell said he is pleased with what he has seen so far.
The Broncos finished 9-20 overall last season, and Mitchell said that even though his team is young, he believes it is capable of competing for a playoff spot.
“We are really excited about the possibilities with this year’s group,” Mitchell said. “Our program has been trying to get adjusted to a new staff and lots of players who have very little or no experience at the varsity level. I think a lot of our season success will depend on growth and maturation. We are tying to get our guys to understand what it takes to win and then to get them to have the willingness and discipline to fight through the discomfort that comes with the process.
“We think as the season moves forward, we will get better as our guys get comfortable playing games and gaining confidence.”
Mitchell said he has a number of players he expects to help lead the way for the Broncos this season, including Brandon Reeves, who recently signed with Harding University, and Lashaune Lunsford, who served as a part-time starter last year but looks to move into a full-time role this season and could lead the team in scoring.
Mitchell added that “Malik Murad is talented and athletic and has some tools that can really give opponents fits, and give Legacy some offensive threats.”
The Legacy coach said he expects JV move-ups Ryan Mata and Trevor Fuller to have good seasons as well.
To rival for a playoff spot in 2016-2017, Mitchell said his team will have to compete night in and night out in district.
“The teams that are able to get their players to battle and fight at a high level are going to be seeing success,” Mitchell said. “We have seen spots in practice, but now that you get to games, how are you able to put it together against another team? That will be a really fun challenge for us.”
Over at Summit, the Jaguars finished 13-18 overall last season and missed the playoffs for the first time in school history.
Coach Jason Mutterer said this season is going to be challenging but said he likes the team chemistry his team is developing so far.
“We have a very tough schedule and maybe the most competitive basketball district in the state,” Mutterer said. “We have a group of guys who are working extremely hard and have great bonds with one another, on and off the basketball floor.”
The Jags return Jahmius Ramsey, Roland Jamison, David Hogue, Nick McDonald, Brandin Thomas, Zaimel Moses, Bernard Buhake, Jerry Harper and Jonathan Omorogbe from last year’s team, and Mutterer said the objectives for his season are pretty straightforward.
“Our goal like every season is to be a playoff basketball team in February,” he said. “The guys understand it is a process and our schedule will help prepare for our goal.”
Summit was 8-10 in district competition last season, and Mutterer said to improve upon that and be in the hunt for a playoff spot, it will take a couple of things.
“In order for us to be successful, we must play tough hard-nosed, focused defense,” Mutterer said. “We need to eliminate simple mistakes and take advantage of odd man situations in transition. We also need to rely on our experiences from last year.”