Weatherford Sports

Kangaroos look for big encore as area boys hoops teams open season

What will the Weatherford Kangaroos do for an encore after last season's eye-opening turnaround under first-year coach Charles Tatum? The Kangaroos, winners of two games the year before, garnered their first playoff berth since 2008 under Tatum.

Rivals Brock and Peaster are once again expected to battle for bragging rights in the county and district. The Eagles, with four starters back, are looking for some redemption after falling in bi-district last season, one season after winning the team's third state title in its history.

Also, with four returning starters, it looks like the Poolville Monarchs will continue their annual appearance in the, which includes 11 straight trips to at least the second round.

Meanwhile, Millsap hopes to recapture the magic of 2014 under head coach Josh Jones, when the Bulldogs made their first playoff appearance in four decades and advanced three rounds. Aledo is hoping to turn things around in a new district and return to playoff contenders (their last appearance was 2014).

It's boys basketball season, and here's a look at the area teams as they prepare for tip-off:

WEATHERFORD KANGAROOS

▪ Record last season: 14-17, 6-8 in district.

▪ Playoffs: Bi-district.

▪ Coach: Charles Tatum.

▪ District 3-6A: Abilene, Haltom, Keller, Keller Central, Keller Fossil Ridge, Keller Timber Creek, Weatherford.

▪ Returning starters: G Grayson Stintson, jr.; F Kotie Mclendon, sr. (currently out with torn PCL).

▪ Key reserves back: G Ty Haung, sr.; F Jacob Huffman, sr.; F Marcus Buckley, sr.

▪ Top newcomers: PG Carson Maberry, jr.; G John Russum, sr.; F Dallas Gailey, jr.; G Brandon Kelly, sr.

▪ Greatest strength: Diversity, ability to play zone and man-to-man defense.

▪ Tatum's thoughts: "Our new district is going to be very competive. Each team will be very well-coached and disciplined. We are going to have to be aggressive defensively and sound offensively to be successful. We can play zone and we can pay man, and do them both very well. This allows us to be unpredictable defensively. Teams will have to be prepared to be sped up and slowed down, to be guarded soft at times and to be pressured and trapped at times. We are a great unit. These boys understand that our team success is only achievable through selfless play. One heart, one beat, one team."

PEASTER GREYHOUNDS

▪ Record last season: 26-7, 12-2 in district.

▪ Playoffs: Class 3A Region I quarterfinals.

▪ Coach: Derron Smith.

▪ District 7-3A: Breckenridge, Brock, Cisco, Eastland, Millsap, Peaster, Tolar.

▪ Returning starters: F Books Pennington, sr.; F Cooper Matlock, sr.

▪ Key reserves back: G Bradon Smith, soph.; G Trevor Payne, sr.; F Tanner Sharp, sr.

▪ Top newcomers: F Daegan Gentry, jr.; G Dillon Bennett, soph.

▪ Greatest strengths: Shooting and defense, senior leadership.

▪ Coach Smith's thoughts: Smith, Payne and Sharp should find their way into the starting lineup.

BROCK EAGLES

▪ Record last season: 24-12, 12-2 in district.

▪ Playoffs: Bi-district.

▪ Coach: Zach Boxell.

▪ Returning starters: G Taylor Perry, sr.; G Matthew Thornton, sr.; G Garrett Leek, jr.; P Scott Thomas, soph.

▪ Key reserves back: F Hayden Waller, sr.; G Treston Hughes, soph.

▪ Top newcomers: G Amery Hughes, jr.; P Wyatt Moore, jr.; F Jacob Rousse, jr.; G Dalton Dickerson, sr.

▪ Greatest strength: Experience, number of returners.

▪ Boxell's thoughts: He expects Waller and Hughes to battle for a starting spot. "We moved to a new district this year. It will be exciting having the opportunity to play different teams that we have not played before. The experience of most of our guys playing varsity ball already should be a positive for us. I believe our team’s mindset is one of our strongest assets."

POOLVILLE MONARCHS

▪ Record last season: 15-16, 8-6 in district.

▪ Playoffs: Class 2A area round.

▪ Coach: Steven Stegall.

▪ District 11-2A: Alvord, Chico, Era, Muenster, Perrin-Whitt, Poolville.

▪ Returning starters: PG Roy McCleery, sr. (6.0 points, 5.0 rebounds, 4.0 assists, took 30 charges); G Landon Smith, sr. (13.0 points, 3.0 rebounds, 63 3-pointers, 52 percent from field); F Dylan Ranspot, sr. (2.0 points, 2.0 rebounds); G Ruben Rodriguez, sr. (9.0 points, 3.0 rebounds, 2.0 steals).

▪ Key reserves back: F Christopher Tunnell, jr.; G Cecil Rodriguez, soph.; G Stone Stegall, soph.

▪ Top newcomers: F Tyler Tunnell, soph.

▪ Greatest strength: Doing the "dirty work" that will negate the lack of size.

▪ Stegall's thoughts: "It's better for us because we are now in a six-team district instead of eight. Also, we lost three teams (Collinsville, Valley View, Lindsay) that were all a long distance away and gained Perrin, who is just around the corner. This team will rely on the leadership and experience of our seniors. We have the potential to be great shooters, especially as much time as the kids put in. I'm very excited about this team. There is a lot of potential."

MILLSAP BULLDOGS

▪ Record last season: 7-24, 3-11 in district.

▪ Playoffs: None.

▪ Coach: Josh Jones.

▪ Returning starter: G Tyler Burchette, sr.

▪ Key reserves back: G Sean King, jr.; P Austin Younger, jr.; F Matt Shaw, jr.; G Spencer Mitchell, sr.

▪ Top newcomers: G Spencer Auld, jr.; F Kaden Wallace, soph.

▪ Greatest strength: Top to bottom team speed.

▪ Jones' thoughts: "District remains difficult. Peaster and Brock are both preseason top 10 in the state, while Cisco, Breckenridge, Eastland, and Tolar were all playoff teams a year ago. We play really hard for a team that's relatively young. I think we have an opportunity to surprise some people."

ALEDO BEARCATS

▪ Record last season: 6-23, 1-13 in district.

▪ Playoffs: None.

▪ Coach: Fred Jones.

▪ District 6-5A: Aledo, Azle, Fort Worth Boswell, Fort Worth Chisholm Trail, Justin Northwest, Haslet Eaton, Saginaw, White Settlement Brewer.

▪ Returning starters: F Cameron Caldwell, sr. (15.6 points); G Noah Arrington, jr.; G Cameron Yates, jr.

▪ Key reserves back: G Andres Valdez, sr.; G Cole Turner, jr.

▪ Top newcomers: C Ayden Smith, jr.; G Jacob Hawkins, jr.

▪ Greatest strength: Toughness.

▪ Jones' thoughts: "New District is full of great players and coaches. I think it will be competitive every night. We have a group that will compete every night. Our greatest intangible is leadership. Players learned how to lead other players."

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