Sterlington Panthers Basketball Preview
The day Sterlington coach Kevin Caballero knew — make that dreaded — was coming is here.
All five starters and a key reserve are gone from the team that captured the school's first district championship in 18 years, leaving the Panthers with scant experience.
Missing from last year's 25-8 squad which lost to Lakeview 81-80 in the second round of the state playoffs are District 2-2A MVP Brandon Douglas, five-year starter Matt Allred (2,254 career points), three-year starter Lance Richard, four-year starting point guard Derek Price, center Filip Duda and guard Tevin Davis.
Sterlington will tip the regular season off with only six players, though the rosters is expected to swell to 15 once the football players report.
Of the six in preseason camp, only point guard DeAdrienne Glass (jr.) and shooting guard Antonio Gray (jr.) have previous varsity experience.
“DeAdrienne did a good job at the beginning of last year while we were waiting on the football players, but his minutes kind of shrunk after that. He'll run the offense this year,” Caballero said. “We had to play Antonio at the 4 at the start of last year, but he was a little out-sized. He shoots the ball real well and had a good summer.”
Rounding out the current roster are forward Tyler Sylvestri (jr.), who rejoins the team after sitting out last season, and a trio of freshmen — center Xavier Willis and guards Mitchell Bush and Tyler Muse.
Guard Jaylon Wade (sr.), a part-time starter and sixth man last season, and versatile Rex Spencer (sr.) will add substantial experience after the football playoffs.
Also expected to join the team from football are point guard Jaylon King (so.), guards Semaj Colvin (fr.) and D'montavious Heard (fr.), forward DeMarcus Matthews (sr.) and forward/center Spencer Davis (fr.).
Though the team will likely face some tough times early on, Caballero is hoping to mold the Panthers into a competitive unit in time for District 2-2A play.
“If everything goes well and nobody gets hurt, I think we'll be OK,” Caballero said. “Maybe by the time district comes around and the football players get their legs under them, we can compete.”
While the Panthers relied on Douglas, Allred and Richard to carry the bulk of the load the past few years, this year's team may have more depth.
“Last year, we had three really good players in my opinion,” Caballero said. “This year, we don't have anybody with that skill set. We don't have as much talent, but we may have more guys that can step in and play.”
Sterlington tips off the season Monday with two games in the West Ouachita Tournament. The Panthers play West Ouachita at noon and Cedar Creek at 5:20 p.m. on Monday, before taking on Ouachita Christian Tuesday at 5 p.m.