What will be the storyline for the 2021-22 high school basketball season in the Big Country? Here’s hoping it won’t be postponements, cancellations and schedule changes because of COVID or blizzards, all of which happened last season.
Here are some potential storylines to keep an eye on this year:
The Eula boys were the only Big Country team to reach the state tournament a year ago. The Pirates graduated their two leading scorers, however, and they have a new coach in Shae Sanford. The long-time boys coach Josh Fostel, who won a state championship there in 2011 switched to become the girls coach at Eula. Can Sanford keep the Eula success going? And can Fostel have the same success with the girls program?
Jamie Masonheimer, who was the girls coach at Eula previously, moved up the road in Callahan County, to become the girls coach at Clyde.
And speaking of Clyde, veteran boys coach Marc Case topped 500 career wins last year. He now has a career record of 503-219 in 30-plus seasons. Can he add to that total with a young team at Clyde this season?
The Abilene Cooper boys won their first outright district title 25 years last season. Can Bryan Conover’s Cougars repeat in 2021-22?
The District 6-3A girls basketball race should be a good one again with perennial powerhouses Jim Ned and Wall. Can Jim Ned, led by guard Claire Graham who has committed to Abilene Christian University, post another 20-win season and district championship?
No district race should be more exciting, or more unpredictable, than the District 10-2A girls basketball race. All four playoff teams from the district a year ago –Haskell, Stamford, Anson and Cisco – won at least two playoff games, and fourth-place Cisco advanced all the way to the regional semifinals.
What about players to keep an eye on? Teams will be looking up at Abilene Wylie’s 6’7” Avery Brekke who averaged 18 points and 10 rebounds per game a year ago. On the girls side, there is 6’1” Sophia Hurtado of Cisco. She was named all-state a year ago. Alyssa O’Malley, a 5’10” guard, is Merkel’s top returning scorer.
One thing interesting about basketball is that, unlike other sports, schools of different classifications play each, especially in girls basketball. For example, Class 3A Jim Ned has games scheduled against Class 6A opponents San Angelo Central, Abilene High and Odessa High as well as Class 1A Lipan.
Varsity Preview will hopefully let you learn about the Big Country high school basketball teams this year. We produced our first issue earlier this year, featuring football and volleyball teams.
But for now, it is time for basketball season. Enjoy!