Season Outlook: Eastern Eagles

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At practice, the Eastern Eagles hustled up and down the court, running suicides for five minutes at a time. They shot layup after layup, trying to get one last shot in before the buzzer sounded.

Not a single shot was missed.

This is the type of fundamental training new head coach Jeremy Hill is using to build his team into a solid force on the court. This year is a clean slate for the Eastern Eagles boys basketball team, and they are working to push to their limits more than ever before.

“Over the last couple years, these kids have lost that drive, that intensity, that killer instinct to play hard,” said Hill. “That’s our biggest battle.”

With a new coach brings a brand new coaching style. This is something the team will have to get used to, but the boys say they are embracing the challenge and adjusting accordingly. The new drills have pushed their mental and physical toughness to new heights, but Hill says it will pay off in the end.

So far, the team does not have a set starting lineup because Hill says he wants the players to prove themselves.

“You know your spots are up for grabs 24/7, so you’re held to a higher standard than you were last year,” said senior Chase Jenkins.

Some of the Eagle seniors are working to reinvent themselves as leaders both on and off the court. Senior Chase Cook feels as if they are improving with Hill behind them.

“We are 100 times better,” said Cook. “We are working harder and playing harder.”

Cook and Jenkins, who both started last year, show promise to lead the starting lineup this season. Another expected key player is freshman point guard Jett Facemyer. According to Facemyer’s teammates and Hill, the freshman works extremely hard, has a positive attitude and has the characteristics of a strong leader.

However, a tough team requires more than just valuable individuals. Hill is working on the boys’ instincts as basketball players in hopes that will help them overcome in the areas they are lacking.

“The (TVC) Hocking is going to be very competitive from top to bottom,” said Hill. “What we’re going to have to do in order to win basketball games and be competitive with them is we’re going to have to outplay them.”

While Hill feels they are running a little behind right now, he thinks the team will be in full force by mid-season.

“Our expectations are if we play hard and we learn as we go by, the middle pack of the season or towards the end of the season we should have a ballclub that’s really ready to play varsity basketball,” said Hill. “But here at the start of the season, we’ve had our ups and downs, and we’re trying to work through it.”

The Eagles still feel they have a ways to go, but they are going to start off small to reach their goals.

“We’re not ready, we’re not where we should be, but with hard work we’ll get there, and I think we’re going to exceed the expectations,” said Hill. “A goal without a plan is just a wish.”