Head coach: Iric Mawhirter (3rd year, 23-22)
Returning starters: Justin Fugitt, Sr., 6-1, G; RJ Thomas, Jr. 6-2, F; Seth Ridenour, Soph., 6-0, F.
Returning letter winners: Oscar Macias, Sr., 5-10, G; Hunter Bailey, Sr., 6-4, F.
Others to watch: Dylan Harrison, Sr., 6-1, F; Matt Mowry, Sr., 6-2, G; Payton Marshall, Jr., 5-11, G; Storm Flores, Soph., 5-9, G; Jayden Perkins, Jr., 5-9, G.
Returning starters Justin Fugitt (7 ppg) and RJ Thomas (7.3 ppg) join with Seth Ridenour, a state placer in the 100-meter dash, a trio coach Mawhirter calls a “solid core from last year” with other letter winners contributing significant minutes and numbers for the Bluejays.
Harrison will be a key addition, he added, noting the senior’s leadership qualities as quarterback on a successful football team this fall.
“We will lack some size from last year’s squad, but hopefully any disadvantage can be made up with our athleticism and team speed,” Mawhirter said.
One huge area for improvement comes on the offense, he added.
“We struggled to score last season, so we’ve moved some guys to spots where we feel they can be more effective,” he said.
During summer ball, the ‘Jays were very competitive, Mawhirter added.
“I look for that to continue into this season. They key to our success will depend on the willingness of our players to accept their roles with the best interests of the team in mine,” he said.
Head coach: Nate Schmitt (5th year, 52-34)
2017-18 record: 17-5
Returning starters: None
Players to watch: Henry Chou, Sr., 6-1, G; Dominick Daniels, Soph., 6-2, G; John Wright, Sr., 5-10, G; William Gilleland, Jr., 5-9, G; Juan Banuelos, 5-9, G; Jaylyn Hash, Jr., 6-0, G; Jace Bachman, Soph., 5-10, G; Jack Achen, Soph., 5-8, G; Connor Hudson, Fr., 5-9, G; Servando Gonzales, Fr., 5-9, G.
Last season, the Lakin Broncs had one of the most successful seasons in recent history, finishing 17-5 and winning the league tournament title for the second time in three years.
Though the Broncs graduated all five starters (which comprised 91 percent of the team stats), coach Nate Schmitt, in his fifth year at Lakin, is counting on a talented group of players to replace those starters.
“We graduated our top five players,” Schmitt said. “We had a great summer. We have 10 guys that could start. This year’s team will work extremely hard and is very coachable.”
Schmitt said the Broncs will be much better than people think.
“Nothing will change in our program,” he said. “We will press the entire time and shoot a lot of threes. People will appreciate how hard the team plays."
Stanton County Trojans
Head coach: Shane Traughber (2nd year, 16-7)
2017-18 record: 16-7
Returning starters: Creed Puyear, Sr., 6-5, F; Francisco Corrales, Sr., 5-7, PG; Michael Aleman, Sr., 6-1, F; Victor Molina, Sr., 5-10, G/F; Jalen Tucker, Sr., 6-3, F/C.
Projected starter: Trevor Trujillo, Sr., 6-1, G (injured all last season).
Returning player: Giovanni Callejas, Jr., 5-9, Jr.
Top newcomers: Brandon Dominguez, Jr. 6-7, C; Trey Summers, Sr., 5-8, G.
The Trojans return five starters from a team that went 16-7 last season and reached the 2A state playoffs, losing in the first round to West Elk. Creed Puyear led the way, nearly averaging a double-double with 15.9 points and 9.8 rebounds per game.
In addition, the Trojans get back Trevor Trujillo, who was injured all of last season but is projected to be in the starting lineup this year.
Head coach: Lance Carter (4th year, 13-50)
2017-18 record: 2-19
Returning players with starting experience: Izzy Delarosa, Sr., 5-11; Tyler Isaac, Sr., 1-10; James Garetson, Sr., 5-11; Jaren Giesick, Sr., 5-8; Carson Thorton, Jr., 5-10; Dylan Watson, Jr., 5-11.
Other returning players: Bryon Hernandez, Soph., 5-9; Brice Williamson, Soph., 5-9; Dylan Mader, Jr., 6-1.
The Larks were just 2-19 last year, but they have a lot of players with experience coming back for the new season.
That means returning nearly 38 points and 23 rebounds a game, both keys for Sublette to have a turnaround year.
“I have a lot of experience coming back,” head coach Lance Carter said. “I think we have the ability to score. The key for us is how well we can defend.”
Head coach: Bryce Simon (1st year)
2017-18 record: 11-10
Returning starters: Kaine Chavez-Buddy, Sr., 18 ppg/6 rpg; Reece hart, Sr., 6 ppg/6 rpg.
Coach Bryce Simon, in his first season as the Syracuse boys head coach, is no stranger to Syracuse basketball. He spent six years as the head girls coach and two as an assistant boys coach.
He has high hopes for the boys this year.
“Going into our first year with the boys program, we are looking forward to working with a solid and hard-working group of young men,” he said. “We believe we have a talented and deep group of players who have a chance to be very successful. Our goal will be to learn and improve every single day to reach our maximum potential as individuals and as a team.”
Head coach: Travis Leverett (3rd year, 24-27)
2017-18 record: 11-13
Returning starters: Timothy Gillen, Jr., 5-10, G; Tate Davis, Soph., 6-0, G.
Newcomer: Keaton Kester, Braydon Irsik, Tyson Bluemer.
Gillen and Dais averaged 22 points and nine rebounds a game last season. They are the only returning starters for the Bulldogs this season.
Coach Travis Leverett knows his team will lack the experience but that will change during the season.
“The team is going to be young this year but we are going to grow and gain experience that will be valuable for the seasons to come,” he said.
Great West Activities Conference
Head coach: Chris Wagner (5th year, 30-53)
2017-18 record: 7-14
Returning starters: Devin Walker, Sr. 6-9, PF/C; Victor Perez, Sr., 6-0, PG; Julius Sifuentes, Sr., 5-11, SG.
Top newcomer: Aaron Galindo, Soph., 5-10, PG.
Santa Fe Trail League
Head coach: Bret Harp (15th year)
Returning starter: Axel Granillo, Sr., 5-11, G/F.
Top newcomers: Justyn Allen, Sr., 5-10, G; Trenton Davidson, Sr., 6-0, F/P; Austin Snyder, Jr., 5-9, G/F; Adan Granillo, Soph., 5-11. G/F; Gerardo Garcia, Soph., 6-0, F/P; Isaac Clifft, Soph., 5-8, G.
The Moscow Wildcats, who lost in first round of the state tournament last year, return just one starter from the successful team, senior guard Axel Granillo.
Coach Bret Harp, in his 15th season, will look to newcomers to help get his team back to the tournament.
“It should be another great year,” Harp said. “We should be very quick, great shooters, and we have a vey good core of players.”
Santa Fe Trail League
Head coach: Bill Baird (2nd year, 5-16)
Returning starters: Daven Reyes, Sr., 6-3, G; Manuel Mata, Jr., 6-1, G; Zach Pena, Jr., 6-0, F; Oscar Zambrano, Soph., 5-7. G/
Top newcomers: Eddie Sanchez, Jr., 5-10, G; Eddie Rojas, Sr., 5-6, G.
Deerfield returns four of five starters from last season, led by senior Daven Reyes’ 17.5 points and eight rebounds a game.
Manuel Matta (15.5/6.2) adds more firepower to the Spartans.
“With everyone back but one from a young team last season, including our two leading scorers, we believe we can play above .500 basketball this year,” said second-year coach Bill Baird.
South Gray Rebels
Head coach: Mark Applegate (37th year, 654-214)
2017-18 record: 26-0
Returning starters: Clifton Miller, Sr., 6-1, G; Austin Jantz, Sr., 6-1, G/F.
Returning letter winners: Aaron Skidmore, Soph., 6-3, G/F; Alfredo Techroeb, Sr., 6-0. F; Eli Bullinger, Sr., 6-1, F; Morgan Koehn, Sr., 5-8, G.
The South Gray Rebels will have a tough act to follow — their own act, in fact.
The perennial powerhouse won the state Class 1A title last year, completing a perfect 26-0 season.
It was the fourth in program history, having won titles in 1997, 2007 and 2008 under the guidance of coach Mark Applegate, who is starting his 37th season (654-214) as South Gray head coach.
The Rebels graduated a number of starters from that title team, but they return some quality players.
That includes senior guard Clifton Miller (18 points and four rebounds a game) and senior wing Austin Jantz (13/3.5).
“We graduated a lot of size,” Applegate said. “We will utilize our quickness and shooting. We will have to develop our team chemistry early in the year.”
South Gray has been in the state tournament (both 1A or 2A) 11 of the past 13 years.