By Chris Parker
Pleasant Hope boys basketball has been a team on the rise the past three seasons going from one win three seasons ago to nine wins two seasons ago to 14 wins and the team’s first winning record since 2010 last year.
The Pirates will look to extend that streak of improvement this season.
“We need to continue to get deeper,” Pleasant Hope head coach Eric DeRossett said. “We need to stay committed to developing depth at the varsity level and growing our JV program. We definitely feel like we have players in the program that will allow us to do that. Our lack of size presents problems for us in conference and district play, so we need to play high percentage basketball.”
Senior point guard Colton Highfill will be the leader of the team after earning second-team all-conference honors last season. He averaged 14.8 points per game while leading the team with 68 assists in 2019-20.
“The pulse of our team is our point guard, Colton Highfill,” DeRossett said. “Colton is a four-year starter and universally respected by his teammates. He has tremendous drive and makes everyone around him better. He often sacrifices his own numbers for the good of the team and is selfless in this way.”
Three other full-time starters return for Pleasant Hope in juniors Marcus Price and Tanner Hillenburg along with senior Brendle McDaniel.
Price led the team in scoring and rebounding last year averaging 17.7 points and 10.1 rebounds per game.
“Marcus Price is a 6’3 junior post player. He averaged a double-double as a sophomore and undoubtedly is the focus as teams prepare to play us,” DeRossett said. “He is developing as an inside-outside threat and could be poised for a really good junior season.”
Hillenburg gives Pleasant Hope a third returning player that averaged double-figures last year. He put up 10.9 points per game.
“He is athletic and is developing into an all-around offensive player,” DeRossett said.
McDaniel was the team’s third-leading rebounder last year with 106 total rebounds.
“Brendle McDaniel is a 5’11 Senior, and is the ultimate blue collar player,” DeRossett said. “He defends and rebounds at a high level and is developing a mid-range offensive game.”
Noah Sherrer will look to have an expanded role this year after playing in all 25 varsity games last year averaging 3.4 ppg.
“Our identity needs to be centered on a ‘team’ defensive approach and high percentage offense,” DeRossett said. “We need to avoid being careless with the ball and make sure that we are getting high percentage shots by the right people, at the right time.”
Pleasant Hope opens the season Nov. 21-25 at the Verona Tournament.
“We have strengthened our non-conference schedule significantly. Our expectations are that we can be playing our best basketball of the season during conference and district play. We are hoping that a rigorous early season schedule will help us do that,” DeRossett said. “We are really proud of this group. The growth of the team has been amazing over the last two seasons. They have laid the foundation for future success and we are excited for them.”