By Chris Parker
Pleasant Hope boys basketball improved from one win two seasons ago to nine wins last year.
“We have some really good kids right now. We aren’t big or intimidating. However, this group really listens and they play really hard. Our program is growing in numbers and in culture,” head coach Eric DeRossett said. “We return four starters plus we get one player back who missed all of last season with an ACL injury. We will only have two seniors this year, so we are still young and inexperienced. We return thee players who averaged in double figures last year. We snuck up on a few teams last year. This year will be tougher in the fact that we won’t ‘steal’ any wins from anybody.”
Colton Highfill returns for his junior year after earning all-conference honors on the strength of averaging 15 points per game.
“Colton is an impact player,” DeRossett said. “He handles the ball for us and is dynamic off the dribble. Over the summer, he clearly became our vocal leader in addition to being our leader on the floor. It is exciting to know that we still have Colton for two more years in our program. He is one of those players who makes everybody else better around him. He is rugged and tough and has amazing drive to be a winner.”
Marcus Price returns for his sophomore season. He is a six-foot-three-inch post that just missed out on averaging double figures as a freshman. Classmate Tanner Hillenburg started every game as a freshman and returns for his sophomore year. Junior Brendle McDaniel is a strong defensive player and rebounder.
Jeff Tanner returns for his senior year after missing his junior year due to an ACL injury. Noah Sherrer will be in the rotation as a junior.
“Last season was my first year at the Pirate Head Coach. This year, we hope to be much ahead of where we were last because we will know the system. We also had the summer to implement some things. I think our chemistry could be a huge advantage for us, if we continue to buy into the team concept,” DeRossett said. “We need to rebound better as a unit, top to bottom. Also, we have to play with more confidence and not play ‘young’.”
DeRossett will look to have his team playing its best in the district playoffs.
“We want to take to the next step as a program. We want to continue to grow and not plateau. Our goal is to be playing our best basketball near the end of the year to give us the best chance to be competitive in the conference and in the district,” DeRossett said.
Pleasant Hope opens the season Dec. 5-7 at the Dennis Cornish Classic in Lockwood.