Northeast Tarrant

Mustangs coach wants to make most of last season

Kevin Starnes doesn’t want the 2014-2015 season turn into a farewell tour. The Grapevine boys basketball coach is making this his final season before he transitions to Colleyville Heritage to become the new assistant principal.

When the news came down at the GCISD school board meeting on Nov. 17, there were plenty of stunned faces within the Grapevine community.

“It was a shock to the players,” said Starnes, who will be in his third season. “But this was a decision I made for the family. I have two little ones and some professional goals. I love coaching at Grapevine. I’ll give 100 percent through this season. I don’t want anyone to think I have one foot out the door.”

Starnes’ incentive is to get this program on solid ground. The Mustangs missed the playoffs in 2013-2014 as they went 15-14 but 5-9 in district play. However, the school moved down to the new, smaller Class 5A and should be in better position to compete for the playoffs. Grapevine shares 6-5A with Lake Dallas, Birdville, Fort Worth Dunbar, Fort Worth Eastern Hills, Fort Worth Polytechnic and Fort Worth Carter-Riverside.

Yet the Mustangs are starting the season shorthanded. Senior 6-5 post Bryce Batchelor is out until mid-January with a stress fracture in his foot. So instead of going to a true double post offense between Batchelor and 6-7 sophomore post Andrew Lastinger, Starnes is going to have to be a little creative. Sophomore 6-4 forward Travis McCormick will also be involved down low.

“Andrew really made an investment in his footwork, strength and shooting,” Starnes said. “He’s been pretty good around the rim.”

The stabilizer will be senior guard Daniel Eibel, a 2013-14 first-team all-district performer. He’s expected to play more off the ball. Eibel scored 14 points in a season-opening 66-54 loss to Frisco Lone Star on Nov. 18.

But quality guard play is going to be crucial. Gabe Ford saw limited varsity time last year. Now a senior, it’s his offense to run. Senior guard Mason Bartman is considered a pretty solid shooter.

Grapevine’s tournament schedule included trips to New Caney last week, San Angelo in early December and Garland over the Christmas Holidays. The meeting with Colleyville Heritage is Dec. 19.

Colleyville Heritage ready to rebound

Every time the thought of 2013-2014 surfaces, Steve Hamrick winces. A proud basketball program like Colleyville Heritage endured a very difficult season as it went 11-14 and 4-10 in district play and missed the playoffs.

But when you ask him about 2014-2015 there’s a little more excitement. The Panthers feature arguably the tallest front court in District 7-6A. When a team can go with 6-5 Markey Young, 6-8 Alex Weaver, 6-4 Brady Miller and 6-5 Maxx Crosby, there are a lot of options in the post. Young was a 2013-2014 second-team all-district performer.

“We definitely want to play through those guys,” said Hamrick, who enters his third season. “They have terrific skill and when the ball is in their hands, they can take it in or stretch out and shoot it.”

But the test will come in the backcourt, where Colleyville Heritage features two newcomers in junior point guard Kevin Ogega (5-11) and senior Tristan Steele (5-10). Ogega needs to show a lot of leadership running this offense in January if the Panthers are going to get into the playoff race.

“He needs to have a great understanding of who can operate in what spots,” Hamrick said. “I think he’ll do that. And his leadership guiding us through adversity will be big.”

And the Panthers just need to score better. There were too many times when possessions broke down and there were either poor shots or no shots.

“We weren’t efficient and our output was inconsistent,” Starnes said. “We just have to be strong on our cuts and improving our skill and dictating the tempo. If we do that, then we can have a good season.”

The season began on Nov. 21 against Flower Mound Marcus. Colleyville Heritage’s tournaments are the Fantasy of Lights in Wichita Falls this weekend, Weatherford in early December and the Garland Lakeview tournament over the Christmas Holidays.