The 2019-2020 basketball season is right around the corner for the Daleville Warhawks and they are hard at work getting ready for it.
Coming off of an Elite-8 appearance in the Class 2A State Tournament last season, the Warhawks lost all-state players Shemar Dixon and Kentayvis Valrie – seniors in 2018-2019 – and will be younger than previous years.
“Practices have gone pretty well so far,” Daleville coach Blake Garner said. “There’s a lot of learning (to do) because we’re going to have seven players that have not played varsity basketball. This will be a rebuilding year for us. So, it’s a work in progress every single day.”
Garner said that this group of Warhawks will be smaller in size than previous years, as well.
“Rebounding and defense is going to be key for us,” Garner said. “When we have open shots we have to make them because for the first time in eight years really we’ll be a little height deficient.”
Garner pointed to senior Melvin Matthews, junior Peanut Bloodsaw and senior Tomar Hobdy as players that he will be relying on to lead the Warhawks in 2019.
“A whole host of players – some off the bench – will be asked to contribute but those three will be our key players,” he said. “We’ll need them to be leaders and our scorers. Everybody has to score but those three in particular will be big for us.”
Positivity is something that Garner and his coaches want to instill in the players to not get down as they continue to grow this season.
“The whole thing we’ve been stressing is that we want to be positive and upbeat and get better everyday,” he emphasized. “I told them it may take us a third or even half of our season to find out where all the parts (of the team) best fit.
“It really is a rebuilding year. Even though we have some pieces there, they’re just young and experienced.”
Daleville will jumpstart the season playing Geneva at Enterprise State Community College on Dec. 3.
“Anytime you get to play on a big court like that it’s fun for the kids,” Garner said. “It’s nothing new to us though with us playing at the Hoops Classic in Dothan and having some success in the postseason. They’ve gotten some experience playing on those big courts like that.”
Daleville and Geneva tip-off at 7 p.m. on Dec. 3 from ESCC’s Lolley Gym.