Preview: Both Eastern Teams Looking To Build On Last Season< < Back to
Change the culture.
That is what Eastern boys basketball coach Jeremy Hill wants to do in his second year at Eastern.
Last year the Eagles went 2-21, but had chances to do better. Coach Hill said one problem with his team last year was that they could not finish games in the final stretch.
“We were ahead in nine games last year at half time, and in the other 12 loses we were only down six at half time,” Hill said. “We were only playing three out of the four quarters and could not put a full game together.”
Hill is impressed with what he has seen in his team so far in scrimmages this season.
"We played Southpoint and beat them three out of six quarters, and Symmes Valley, who we beat five out of six quarters.”
On top of fixing what goes on on the court, Hill has tried to get the team to fix their issues off the court as well. Hill said that some of the boys didn't get along with each other last year, but he has worked to get them to come together and play for one another.
“We took them up to Kent State for a weekend, we played a lot of basketball," he said. "We played in Jackson in the summer league to try and get them to come together and they have.”
Eastern only lost two players to graduation and are returning almost everyone from last year, including five seniors.
Senior Greyson Wolfe says the players have a better outlook this season than last.
“We’ve brought more of a positive energy. (There's) less bringing each other down,” Wolfe said. “I think we’ve matured and it has helped a lot.”
The last season for the Eagles was a trying one, for the players and the coach, but it is through that adversity that Wolfe thinks they will excel this year.
“There’s no where to go but up," Wolfe said. "21 loses, we don’t want that again."
One senior, Christian Speelman, is a guy that Hill is looking for to take a leadership position on the team to help them win more games. Last year, Speelman was named to the All-District team.
Hill also expects sophomore Jett Facemeyer and junior Dylan Swatzel to step up. Hill said he’s asking a lot out of Facemeyer, a point guard who can do big things in his sophomore year. Swatzel is a post player who can play a big role on defense for the Eagles.
While many consider the boys’ team a work in progress, the Lady Eagles are looking to carry the momentum from last season into 2014. After last season’s state title run, the Lady Eagles return this season with a fresh start.
That fresh start will be without all of their starting five from last year, who they lost to graduation.
“We went from one spectrum to another,” head coach John Burdette said about the age of his team. “We just lost a lot of maturity.”
Despite losing that leadership, Burdette says they are still doing the same things they did last year in practice. He thinks that it helped the younger girls learn how to win games last season when they were able to watch and play with the seniors that led them to the state title.
However, seeing how to win and going out and executing are two different things. It would be hard for anyone to step up and fill the scoring role of Jenna Burdette, but coach Burdette doesn't want someone to take the exact same role; he wants multiple leaders.
"There isn’t one girl I’m expecting to step up," coach Burdette said. "We’ll see who the leaders are as the season goes on.”
As far as goals for this season, Burdette wants to win two games that his girls are not favored to win.
“I think a lot of teams in the league are going to be better this year, like Belpre, Southern, and Waterford," he said. "We start the season with River Valley and they were young a few years ago, so this year I expect them to play well. “
The 2014-15 Lady Eagles have a tough act to follow after last year’s squad won the state title. However, they have seen what it takes to win a lot of games and were a part of that title themselves. There is a culture of winning in Reedsville that these Lady Eagles are looking to continue.