Once Stephenville boys basketball head coach Bill Brooks has all of his players together, he is predicting that his Yellow Jackets will be a fast, athletic team that’s fun to watch.
A few key performers are still involved with the playoff-bound varsity football team, which has won eight of its 10 games and will play its bi-district game against Sanger at 7 p.m. this Friday at Saginaw High School.
Brooks kicked off his third season as head coach with a 65-47 victory over De Leon last Saturday. Their second game was played Tuesday night at Gatesville.
Last season the Yellow Jackets made the playoffs as the third-place team in District 8-4A. They were eliminated in the bi-district round of the playoffs for the second year in a row, falling to 24th-ranked Burkburnett, 69-42.
Returning starters for the Jackets are expected to be point guard Clay Krause, along with guards Mason Holstein, Cole Pettit and Blake Aragon. Pettit and Aragon, who is 6-5, are key starters on the football team.
Krause was also a key football athlete, until he suffered a leg injury a few weeks ago. He had surgery and is expected to be released for basketball around Dec. 1.
“I want those guys to be successful,” Brooks said of the Jackets’ football squad. “I want them to play as long as they can because I’m confident with the guys I have. We’re short-handed, but they’ll play hard.”
Holstein had to sit out the football season because of a preseason injury, but will be able to play basketball.
In the De Leon game, Braden Hayes was the top scorer for SHS with 17 points, and Skylar Stilwell added 13.
“I think we’ll be able to shoot the ball well, and we’re going to be great on the defensive end,” Brooks said. “Last year we didn’t shoot as well, and we gave up more points than I wanted. With that experience, we’re going to be better in both of those areas.”
Holstein led the Jackets in assists last season, and Pettit’s teammates voted him as the team’s most valuable defensive player.
“Holstein has a high IQ for the game,” Brooks said. “He knows the game real well. We always put (Pettit) on the other team’s best player.
“Krause is good at running the offense from the point guard position. Blake rebounds, blocks shots — just his presence on the floor is enough, with his height and athletic ability. He plays above the rim.”
Having those four starters back should be a key factor for the Jackets, Brooks said.
“Because there are so many coming back, our team chemistry is great,” Brooks said. “They love being around each other. They’re like a big family. They’re a fun group to coach.”
Brooks said the top two teams in district last year — Midlothian Heritage and Waxahachie Life School — should once again be the ones to beat to have a shot at a district title. Heritage reached the state tournament before being eliminated in the semifinal round.
“It’s tough at the top, but we compete with them,” Brooks said. “I feel we’re a playoff team, and we can compete for a top spot in the district.
“If we continue to play well together, we could make a good run. These players made a strong showing in the summer league. They played real well together.”