For the first time in his three-year tenure at Hays High, head boys basketball coach Matt Sandoval is looking toward experience to guide his team.
With a roster brimming with upperclassmen, Sandoval anticipates improvement on last season’s 12-win campaign. The program began that process last week with a 53-39 nondistrict win over Leander.
But to compete in what could be a wide-open 25-6A district race, Sandoval hopes to focus on his team’s strengths en route to a possible playoff run.
At the center will be a team that returns eight players from last season. All but one player is a junior or a senior.
Guards Tiras Morton, Luke Watson and Noah Fultz are expected to help in the backcourt, while Curtis Hudgeons, Jacob Monroe and Quetzin Pimentel bring size in the paint. Six players on the Rebel roster stand at 6-feet, 3-inches or taller.
Watson is someone who Sandoval said is poised for a breakout season. Overall, players “battled every game last year” and learned from it, Sandoval said. He added many of his players had a “great offseason” and are eager to put their best foot forward.
“When he (Fultz) gets going, he’s hard to stop,” Sandoval said.
Bringing players up through the freshmen and junior varsity ranks has also helped overall team progression as well. Many of the senior players didn’t get the chance to play at lower levels, instead started playing on varsity from an early age.
This season, Sandoval said he has moved eight players from junior varsity to the next level.
“Going through the proper steps of the program, playing freshmen and JV, it bolsters your confidence,” Sandoval said. “We’re excited and working hard.”
District play, however, will mean taking on teams that could be close in the standings, but are drastically different.
Sandoval said Westlake and Lake Travis, who both have top-tier Division I talent, could be the teams to beat.
“We’re focused on the Hays Rebels and we’re going to get after it,” Sandoval said.
Hays hosts Dripping Springs Friday at 7:30 p.m. at Bales Gym.