Rattlers hope deep roster leads to success
After bowing out in the first round of playoffs last year, Tolar head basketball coach Ethan Lunn is excited for 2019-20.
“This will be the best shooting team that I’ve had since I’ve been here, across the board,” he said. “This will be the best ball-handling team that I’ve had since I’ve been here.”
With returning starters like senior guard Matt Moody and senior forward Seth Carroll, along with up-and-comers like sophomore Austin McGowan and junior Justin Berry, the Rattlers have a deep roster. Tolar lost leading scorer Mason Behrens, who moved to Granbury in the offseason, but added former Pirate Blake Cason, who came over in the summer.
The focus in the offseason has been making sure that those shooters are consistent, not streaky. The Rattlers are also still fine-tuning their motion offense.
“It’s hard to teach kids to play basketball, and we’re still working on that,” Lunn said. “We’re year three, and knock on wood, it’s looking a lot better.
“The ball’s moving around better, we’re seeing cuts better and we’re understanding what we’re trying to get.”
The offense won’t necessarily go through Moody and Carroll, but the two seniors will be the primary scorers.
“Obviously being the two big seniors that have played the last three years, we’re going to lean on them for leadership, and really just some big plays,” Lunn said. “Moody showed that he can do it in spurts, Carroll did, and now it’s putting it all together and showing that we can do it consistently.”
McGowan came on strong at the end of last year as a freshman. He learned from then-senior Derian Morphew and has taken some of Morphew’s grind-it-out game.
“He’s undersized, but he’s tough, and he’s just a fighter,” Lunn said. “He brings a lot of grit to our team, a lot of hustle. He’s not afraid to get in and mix it up with the big guys.
“(Morphew) was huge in bringing Austin along. And if there’s one person you could’ve looked at and modeled, it’s Derian.”
Senior Brett Jackson will return, proving height with his 6-5 frame. Juniors Justin Berry and Chase Stein are also back from the varsity,
The Rattlers finished at 22-12 (9-5 District 7-3A) last season, and are eyeing a return to the playoffs. Brock is the No. 2 team in Class 3A and will be tough for any team in Tolar’s district to handle, and No. 12 Peaster won’t be easy either.
Tolar has talent at every level, though, and Lunn thinks the Rattlers will only get better.
“I’m really excited about the future,” he said. “Knock on wood, the future around here is really bright.
“We’ve got talent at every level. This is the deepest it’s been since I’ve been here.”
Tolar will begin its season at home against Bridgeport Friday at 7 p.m.
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