Varsity boys look to overcome youth
It’s a fact of life in high school athletics that graduation will change a program.
And when certain seniors graduate from a basketball program, the effect can be pronounced.
Lindale High School’s basketball team, which earned a second straight trip to the state regional tournament last year and finished 27-9 in 2011, were led by three-time all-district and two-time all state performer Jordan Van De Kop and a host of other valuable seniors.
This year, however, the Eagles are considerably younger and without Van De Kop, are forced to discover other ways to score.
“We’re just really young,’’ said Scott Albritton, now in his sixth season at the helm of the Lindale program. “We’ve got five juniors and five sophomores and only two guys with varsity experience.’’
The Eagles, who hosted Chapel Hill on Tuesday (Dec. 11), will host Henderson on Friday, Dec. 14.
Recent action included games in the Lindale Hoop Heaven Tournament, scheduled Nov. 30-Dec. 1 at the high school.
The Eagles managed to qualify for the third place contest, but were defeated by Spring Hill, 55-42.
With all this youth on his team, Albritton said he’s in an unfamiliar place.
“Our guys are learning how to play at varsity speed,’’ he said. “They are also finding out what it takes to win at this level. Five (on this year’s varsity) were playing freshman ball this time last year.
“This isn’t similar to anything I’ve had in the past,’’ he said. “I’ve always had at least four to five seniors on the team. This year, it’s just a lot younger.’’
One thing that could help this year’s version of the Eagles is there are plenty of games to find their legs before district starts on Jan. 11 in Jacksonville.
“District play gets under way in January,’’ Albritton said, “so we have at least 12 or 13 more games before we get into league action.’’
And there’s no rest for his club once district begins.
“We are in one of the toughest districts in East Texas,’’ he said, citing powers John Tyler, Whitehouse and Jacksonville.
“It’s kind of a double whammy for us, being so young and moving up a classification to this district,’’ Albritton said. “But our guys continue to work hard so you never know what could happen.’’
Size-wise, the Eagles aren’t going to tower over anyone but they aren’t a bunch of mites either.
“I don’t have any one player that’s tall,’’ he said. “But our overall size isn’t bad. We’ll start three players that are 6-2 or taller.
“It’s just hard to replace a two-time all state player (Van De Kop).’’
Through it all, Albritton has a good vibe from this group.
“I love this team,’’ he said. “There’s not any consolation in moral victories, I understand that. But I love going to practice and see how hard these guys work and the effort they give.’’
This is apparent, he said, from the comments he’s received from other teams.
“It’s rewarding for us to hear from other schools and their parents telling me how hard our guys are playing,’’ Albritton said. “That’s the joy of this team – they play so hard and are giving a great effort each and every time they get on the floor.’’