Euless Trinity knows it has its work cut out to earn a fifth consecutive postseason berth in boys basketball, so the Trojans ensured they would have their work cut out early in the season as well.
“We scheduled up, to put it bluntly,” coach Mark Villines said. “Just due to the fact of the level we know we’re going to have to play come district, plus the fact we’re experienced.”
That experience, which includes five returning players who started at least some point last season, meant the Trojans could hit the floor running this fall.
“I would say from an X’s and O’s standpoint, we’re probably ahead of the game,” Villines said. “[The players] know what I expect and what we’re going to do defensively. We’re not going to change anything.”
To help matters, most of the varsity roster played together on an AAU team over the summer, adding about 40 games together. Villines noted that returning lettermen Jacob Myatt and Josh Kashila both had excellent summers, as did Hunter Whitcher, a JV call-up who shot the ball really well.
With experience and chemistry, Villines has a number of options at his disposal, but only so many minutes to go around.
“We’re still trying to get guys to figure out roles and understand roles,” he said. “Guys are trying to figure out, ‘what is my role going to be on this team.’”
One thing that will carry over from last season is that the offense will largely go through 2016 District 7-6A MVP Jhivvan Jackson.
One thing Trinity doesn’t want to carry over from last season is its penchant for losing close games. Twice, the Trojans lost in overtime. Three times in district play, the team lost by a single point. When one game could be the difference in making the postseason, every night matters.
“Being as tough as our new district is, what we’ve really been preaching is consistency,” Villines said. “In this district, it might not be the best team that gets out, it’s going to be the most consistent, who can night in and night out be the most consistent team.”
That consistency is the goal of the non-district schedule, which includes the prestigious Whataburger Tournament in late December. Villines knows — and wants it to be — a challenge. It started with a trip to Wichita Falls earlier this month for the Elite 14 scrimmage, where the Trojans beat Lancaster, and ends at the Whataburger on Dec. 30. (There’s actually one district game sandwiched in, on Dec. 16 vs. Trophy Club Byron Nelson.)
“My hope is the kids will understand, regardless of outcomes, that it’s getting us ready for district,” Villines said. “We know what we need to work on and we know what our potential is.”