The Middlesboro Yellow Jackets are coming off a 16-14 season that saw them with a 13th Region All “A” championship and advance to the finals of the 52nd District Tournament and the semifinals of the 13th Region Tournament.
The Jackets graduated five seniors but returning their two leading scorers in senior guard Donnie Foister and senior forward Austin Poindexter.
“Those two together give us one the best combinations of guys coming back in the region. They give us good leadership and experience and somebody to go to when we need a basket,” Jacket coach Russell Thompson said. “We’ll have (senior) Tyler Prater coming back and he’ll be a force for us down low and he’s the kind of kid you want in your program.”
Prater sat out last season with a shoulder injury.
Rounding out the rest of the projected rotation are athletic wings Josh White,Tyshon Kincaide, Major Edwards and Brandon Hale.
“They’re getting their shot now. They’ve been working with me for four years and it’s their time to grab that opportunity and get the job done,” Thompson said. “We lose a little bit in speed probably, but we do look strong and we should be able to do a good job on the glass.
“Last year we played seven or eight guys and we have two guys returning from that. We lost five seniors so we’re going to have to develop some depth to get back to a seven or eight man rotation Guys coming off the bench like Justin Miracle and Abishek Singh have to be ready to come in a shoot the ball when their number is called.”
The pieces appear to be in place for a strong run a repeating in the All ‘A’ and making a run at a 52nd District title.
Middlesboro was outscored, but played well against Boyle County in a scrimmage on Saturday without Poindexter, Foister or Prater.
“Boyle County has a good team and we were only down by five after the first half with an inexperienced team out there,” Thompson said. “We’ve got to get better at our half-court offensive sets. They’re taking to our coaching well and we’ll just have to see how the team comes along.”
The Yellow Jackets open the regular season on Dec. 6 at Barbourville.