It may take a few games into this season to show, but Polk County head boys basketball coach Josh McEntire expects the Wolverines to soon display a defining characteristic.
A roster mixed with experienced players and upperclassmen returning to the program after an absence should give McEntire numerous on-court options this season as Polk County looks to improve upon last year’s 12-14 record. Despite the loss of five seniors from that squad, McEntire heads into Monday’s season opener at East Henderson with high hopes for the year ahead, though the success of the Wolverine football squad and the influx of newcomers will likely mean some transition time early in the schedule.
“I’m excited about the season,” McEntire said. “One thing we’re going to have is a lot of options. If we put in the time and effort in practice, I think we’ll keep getting better all the time.”
One thing McEntire, nor any other coach in the sport’s history, is able to coach is height. Fortunately for Polk, there’s far more of that on the roster this season than usual.
Junior center Morgan Groves (6-6), returning sophomore Wes Mullis (6-4), small forward Sequan Miller (6-3) and seniors Wes Brady and Will Ballard will all team to give the Wolverines a far larger lineup than usual. Junior Jordan Smith will also see time at small forward. McEntire is especially looking forward to see what Mullis can do in the frontcourt.
“Wes Mullis is just a sophomore, but I look for him to take a big leap, especially being a year older,” McEntire said. “It’s tough to come in as a freshman and play inside.
“We’ve got a couple of other guys who are 6-1, 6-2. This team will have some height. You can’t teach height, and that’s definitely going to help us match up much better. We’ve got a lot more size than we’ve had in the past.”
The backcourt will be anchored by returning all-conference selections sophomore Jamal Tanner at point guard and senior Anthony Carson at shooting guard. Senior Jarod Bontrager will also play in the backcourt and “has a chance to see a lot of minutes,” McEntire said.
“We definitely will push the ball up and down the floor and look to get easy baskets,” McEntire said. “We’re going to be flexible, but we’ll press a good bit each game, but if we want to go big and go to a zone we can.
“We like to push the ball on offense and look for easy baskets.”
McEntire expects to see Mountain Heritage and Hendersonville fighting for the conference lead, and also thinks Owen could be a playoff factor.
“Everyone in the conference will be solid,” McEntire said. “Mitchell, Avery, Madison could beat anybody on any given night.”
The Wolverines closed last season with a flourish, reeling off several late-seasons wins that included a 63-59 victory over Hendersonville. McEntire hopes that momentum carries over into this season, though he admits it could be a few weeks into the season before the Wolverines are fully settled into their various roles.
“I am looking forward to coaching this group,” he said. “It’s going to be a fun group to work with.”