Most recipes only work when you use the same ingredients to get great results every time.
So while the Keller basketball program surged into the state tournament last year with some key ingredients, the Indians knew that to produce the same batch of goodies this year, they’d have to change up their recipe.
Running out of a major ingredient in one of the area’s best players, R.J. Nembhard — now on the TCU roster — and Keller head coach Randall Durant knew he’d need to look around the cupboard for alternatives.
That’s not to say that the result won’t be just as good as last year’s. It will just have a different look and flavor.
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Only one starter returned to Keller this year, and others have had to modify their roles.
Carson Hughes was last season’s second-leading scorer and the lone returner this year. He was also an all-district selection.
Preston Hannah, the Indians’ sixth man as a sophomore, has worked with Hughes and his other teammates to reformulate a successful run again this season.
“Preston is having to learn how to be a point guard,” Durant said.
But Hannah is learning quickly, becoming the top scorer for Keller with a smooth outside shot.
Hannah is no newcomer to the pressures, though, as he showed his potential during Keller’s run down the stretch of last year’s playoffs and state tournament game.
Playing behind Nembhard was a great learning experience, Hannah said.
“He was more of a scorer and I’m more of a facilitator, but I did learn some moves from him,” Hannah said jokingly. “I’ve got to play point guard now and focus more on ball-handling and passing skills.”
Hannah has also boosted his scoring average over the last few games up to about 12 points per game.
Meanwhile, Hughes’ role is a bit different, as well. Nembhard’s graduation shifts some of the load around the floor.
Now, Hughes and Hannah are trusting their teammates more and are keyed in on just taking care of their responsibilities to assume that load. More of the scoring is on their shoulders.
“R.J. could walk into a gym and put up 20 points,” Hannah said.
Hannah and Hughes are picking up that slack. Others, including Caden Keller, Shane Brion and Everett Johnson, are also making adjustments and improvements.
But before the district schedule opens for Keller on Dec. 21 at Abilene, there’s still more adjustments to make.
“There’s a learning curve with bumps and bruises, but we’re learning how to do it,” Durant said.