By The Telegram

When Jason Jones took the reins of the Ulysses boys basketball team a year ago, he knew he was taking on a rebuilding process that would take more than just a season or two.

With that in mind, he played a mixture of underclassmen including several freshmen from an outstanding junior high team.

The youthful Tigers took their lumps as evidenced by a 5-16 record.

But now Jones is hoping that experience will pay off in a big way as the new season gets underway.

Heading the list of returners is all-Mid State Activities Association selection Bryce Moral (5-11 guard), who averaged 15 points per game as a junior. Two other seniors will be critical leaders for the Tigers two-year letter winner Cort Malone and Josh Sullivan, who was an all-league pick in football this past fall.

"We have many letter winners returning that saw quality varsity experience last season," Jones said. "I anticipate our experience to start paying dividends this year and make us much more competitive. Our seniors will be a huge key to our success as they fit into their roles and help us continue to establish our program."

The four sophomores who got their baptism as freshmen are Kyle Zerr, Garrett Kissel, Josh Jarnagin and Edwin Porras. Juniors who figure to have key roles include Sergio Perez and Chris Oliver.

"We will be undersized most nights, but I think our team speed and depth can help us overcome our lack of size," Jones said.

Jones also expects to get contributions from newcomers Andy Simpson, a junior, and Braden Langston, a sophomore.

"The inside play will be key as they will have to be tough to guard and rebound against bigger opponents almost every night," Jones saidt. "I am excited about our kids and believe that if we can develop our team chemistry and learn to play unselfishly that we have a chance to be very competitive."

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First-year Ulysses Lady Tigers basketball coach Eric Flaton inherits a senior-laden team that posted a 13-9 record a year ago.

Those seniors 5-8 forward Janni Meierhoff, 5-8 guard Jayde Jarnagin and 5-7 guard Courtney Anthony will be the critical components for the Lady Tigers to move past the first round of the sub-state next March.

"Those seniors can carry us through most of the season but in order for us to move forward past the first or second round of sub-state, we will have to find some depth," Flaton said.

In addition to his three senior returning starters, Flaton has two other seniors back 5-6 guard Jackie McCauley and 5-7 guard Mandy Spencer. Meierhoff averaged 8.5 points and 4.5 rebounds a year ago while Jarnagin hit at a nine-point clip and Anthony at 4.8 points.

One of the major keys to success will be the development of 6-0 sophomore Kaylea Britton, who averaged 7.4 points from her forward position during her freshman season.

"The seniors are the hardest working group that I have ever been around," Flaton said. "If their hard work can rub off on our bench, especially our most athletic player, Kaylea Britton, then we have a chance to compete against any team we face."

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School: Ulysses Tigers

Class: 4A

League: Mid-State Activities Association

Coach: Jason Jones (2nd year, 10th overall)

2008-2009 Record: 5-16

Returning Starters: Bryce Moral (Sr.); Cort Malone (Sr.); Josh Sullivan (Sr.); Kyle Zerr (So.); Josh Jarnagin (So.)

Returner Lettermen: Sergio Perez (Jr.); Chris Oliver (Jr.); Garrett Kissel (So.); Edwin Porras (So.)

Top Newcomers: Andy Simpson (Jr.); Braden Langston (So.)

School: Ulysses Lady Tigers

Class: 4A

League: Mid-State Activities Association

Coach: Eric Flaton (1st year)

2008-2009 Record: 13-9

Returning Starters: Janni Meierhoff (5-8, Sr., G/F); Jayde Jarnagin (5-8, Sr., G/F); Courtney Anthony (5-7, Sr., G)

Returning Letter winners: Jackie McCauley (5-6, Sr., G); Mandy Spencer (5-7, Sr., G); Kaylea Britton (6-0, So., F)

Top Newcomers: Vanessa Rodriguez (5-2, Jr., G); Samantha Monzon (5-4, Jr., G); Lindsay Lisle (5-3, Jr., G); Kristen Baldwin (5-4, Jr., G); Frankie Westover (5-5, So., F)