Four years of playing on a Class 2A state championship team while growing up in Moundridge.
Four years of playing NCAA Division I basketball at Iowa State University.
As much basketball as he has experienced, both as a player and as an assistant and now head coach, Jacy Holloway has never experienced what he will on Friday.
That’s when he takes his Garden City Buffaloes boys team to Canyon, Texas, for the season-opening AMA-TechTel Tournament of Champions in which they will tip-off at 10:30 a.m. against Abilene Cooper.
But that’s not what makes Friday a first-ever for Holloway.
It will come later in the day when the Buffs have to play their second game of the day, either at 3:30 p.m. if it’s a consolation contest, or at 6:30 p.m. if it’s the semifinals.
“Never played or coached two regular games in one day,” said Holloway, who enters his ninth season at the helm with a 76-78 record. “We’re going to have to go deeper in our rotation to keep bodies fresh, so we’re going to have to keep that in mind.”
The returners provide Holloway with one of his most experienced groups since he assumed the reins in 2010-11.
Lost from last year’s squad are point guard Griff Brunson and forward Zac Karlin.
The 2016-17 squad finished 11-12, but they made a late-season run and earned a trip to the Class 6A state tournament, where they lost in the opening round to eventual state champion Blue Valley Northwest, 70-54.
“Our practices have gone pretty good and I like the mix of kids we have,” Holloway said.
Returning starters include Garret Doll (6-0, Sr., G), who averaged a team-high 12.0 points a year ago. Post DeMarcus Elliott (6-4, Sr.) averaged 5.5 points and 3.7 rebounds, while junior Jarrod Springston (6-1, G/F) averaged 5.1 points.
But the Buffs also return junior Tye Davis (6-3, G/F, 3.7ppg), Carlos Acosta (5-8, So., G, 3.0ppg) and senior Jayden Crook (5-10, G). Davis and Acosta both saw plenty of court time last year, both starting on occasion.
“With our length, we want to be aggressive defensively, and I think that will set up things for us on offense,” Holloway said of the up-tempo game he expects to see. “We want to force the issue by our presence on defense and try to speed ‘em up a little. We’ve tried to play that way at times in the past and it didn’t work, but I think it fits this group’s athleticism very well.”
Holloway also welcomed back Derrick Sexton (6-3, Sr., F), who sat out last year, but has returned for his final season.
Holloway said he felt he had a solid 10 to put into the rotation, if necessary, and likely would go that deep on Friday to keep from wearing out the players in the opener.
If there’s any benefit of playing Abilene Cooper Friday it would be that at least three or four of their usual starters or top reserves are still playing football as that school will be playing in the Texas state championship in another week.
Depending upon Friday’s results, the Buffs could be playing their third game in two days on Saturday as early as 10:30 a.m. or as late as 1:30 p.m. Games are being played at both Canyon High School and the First United Bank Center in Canyon.
Note: The home opener for the Buffs will be the following week when they host the Clarion Inn Roundball Classic on Dec. 7-8-9 at The Garden. They will open with Wichita Trinity on Dec. 7, followed by Dumas, Texas, on Dec. 8, and concluding with Scott City on Dec. 9.