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ET Boys Basketball: 2017 season preview

Nov. 13, 2017 at 4 a.m.

Longview's Jason Bush, left, eyes the basket against Pine Tree. Bush has been named to the boys' 11-6A all-district basketball first team.

LONGVIEW

Mascot: Lobos

Coach: Don Newton (324-207)

District: 11-6A (John Tyler, Tyler Lee, Rockwall, Rockwall-Heath, Mesquite, Mesquite Horn, North Mesquite

2016-17 record: 13-18

Top returning players: Jason Bush ... Jaylin Brown ... Jaiden Smith

Newcomers to watch: Malik Henry ... Phillip Washington

You can count on: "The kids will compete." — Newton

Did you know: Longview finished 4-10 in district play last season ... Newton is in his first season at Longview, coming to the Lobos after spending the past seven years at Corsicana. He inherited a Corsicana program that had gone 0-27 the previous season, and built it into a district champion in a few short seasons ... The Lobos have won 13 games in each of the last two seasons, finishing 13-19 in 2015-16

PINE TREE

Mascot: Pirates

Coach: Jermaine Lewis (62-60)

District: 16-5A (Hallsville, Marshall, Mount Pleasant, Sulphur Springs, Texas High, Greenville)

2016-17 record: 8-19

Top returning players: J.J. Sparkman ... Pokey Best ... Datravion "Trey" Pruitt

Newcomers to watch: Isaiah Lawson ... Jaiden Womack ... Da'Von Coleman

You can count on: "An up-tempo team that shares the ball and plays with a lot of energy." — Lewis

Needs work: "Rebounding will be something we will address daily." — Lewis

Did you know: Sparkman was last year's Longview News-Journal All-East Texas Newcomer of the Year after averaging 10 points, 10 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game

HALLSVILLE

Mascot: Bobcats

Coach: Rusty Walker (293-246)

District: 16-5A (Pine Tree, Marshall, Mount Pleasant, Sulphur Springs, Texas High, Greenville)

2016-17 record: 21-11

Top returning players: Shadd Berg (6.4 points, 1.2 rebounds, 1.0 steals) ... Jeremy Swalley (8.0 points, 2.4 rebounds) ... Rowdy Smith ... Brock Puckett ... Isiah Rodgers ... Cameron Bullock

Newcomers to watch: Ty Huff ... Kobe Hogan ... Brenton Allen

You can count on: "The Bobcats look to get back into the playoffs after missing out in 2016-17 due to a tiebraker in a very competitive playoff race. This year's group will play hard together and have good team depth." — Walker

Needs work: "We'll have to grow up quick after losing five starters. The Bobcats will look to their six players with varsity experience along with other that will move up from subvarsity to fill the void." — Walker

Did you know: Walker is 61-58 at Hallsville

MARSHALL

Mascot: Mavericks

Coach: Bobby Carson (709-257)

District: 16-5A (Pine Tree, Hallsville, Mount Pleasant, Sulphur Springs, Texas High, Greenville)

2016-17 record: 20-15

Top returning players: Corteze Hurd ... Marje Smith ... Salah Smith ... Jay Hall ... Kam King ... Lee Jefferson ... Ben Tackett ... Kahlil Wallace ... Kobe Williams

Newcomers to watch: Dom Williams ... Jayson Tuck ... James Thomas

You can count on: "Will will play hard and with passion." — Carson

Needs work: "There is nothing we can't improve on." — Carson

Did you know: Hurd and Smith are both four-year lettermen and three-year starters for the Mavericks, and Smith and King are three-year lettermen

SPRING HILL

Mascot: Panthers

Coach: Tim Ender

District: 15-4A (Kilgore, Bullard, Chapel Hill, Gilmer, Gladewater)

2016-17 record: 22-10

Top returning players: Kyren Miller ... Tyler Caron

Newcomers to watch: Exavier Hinton ... Dayson Adaway ... Ryan Willis

You can count on: "The Panthers will play hard for four quarters." — Ender

Needs work: "Defense." — Ender

Did you know: Spring Hill finished 6-4 in district play last season

KILGORE

Mascot: Bulldogs

Coach: Jerry Timmons

District: 15-4A (Spring Hill, Gilmer, Gladewater, Chapel Hill, Bullard)

Top returning players: Octavian McKee ... Seth Thomas ... Nesba Brown ... Hunter Bonnette ... Deiontrae Wheat ... Elijah Williams

Newcomers to watch: Jeremiah Hhoskins ... Nick Hooper ... Sam Kosel ... Patrick Jackson

You can count on: "We will play hard every second of every game. We will also play sound, intense defense." — Timmons

Needs work: "Our goal is to get better every day, practice and game. We want all aspects of our game to improve before district begins. We will be working on our focus and attention to details along with parts of offense and defense." — Timmons

Did you know: Kilgore will host 14 teams in the Oil Belt Classic Dec. 14-16 at Kilgore High School and Kilgore College. The event will feature small school (eight teams) and big school (six teams) brackets

GLADEWATER

Mascot: Bears

Coach: Curtis Armstrong

District: 15-4A (Spring Hill, Kilgore, Gilmer, Bullard, Chapel Hill)

Top returning players: Isaiah Davis ... Michael Sanchez ... Derek Wallace

CARTHAGE

Mascot: Bulldogs

Coach: Charlie Tucker (193-239)

District: 16-4A (Center, Henderson, Rusk, Tatum)

2016-17 record: 13-6

Top returning players: Dee Bowens ... DeWaylon Ingram

Newcomers to watch: Quinton Owens ... Deaundrey Bowman

You can count on: "We'll play hard and compete every night." — Tucker

Needs work: "We will have a short time to prepare because all of my players are football players as well. With us most likely having a long playoff run again in football this year, we may only have about four or five games to prepare before district play begins." — Tucker

Did you know: The Bulldogs defeated Spring Hill in bi-district play a year ago, Carthage's first basketball playoff win in 10 years

HENDERSON

Mascot: Lions

Coach: Joel Livingston

District: 16-4A (Carthage, Rusk, Tatum, Center)

Top returning players: Trae Hall ... Tyrek Blanton ... Treylon Blanton ... Caleb Medford

Newcomers to watch: Daterrious Hart

You can count on: "We'll be exciting to watch." — Livingston

Needs work: "The defensive end of the floor." — Llivingston

Did you know: Henderson made the playoffs last season, losing in the first round to Chapel Hill by a bucket (52-50)

TATUM

Mascot: Eagles

Coach: Brett Carr

District: 16-4A (Carthage, Henderson, Rusk, Center)

Top returning players: OB Jones ... Tyler Wallace ... C.J. Vandre ... Drake Smith ... Jaumarie Wilson ... Jimmie Jakubowski ... Jacob Davis ... Jakobe Mitchell

You can count on: "We'll play very hard." — Carr

Needs work: "Finishing and playing as a team." — Carr

Did you know: Tatum finished third in the district race last season, defeating Gilmer in the bi-district playoffs and falling to Pleasant Grove in the area round ... Jones was the district's Defensive Player of the Year last season ... Tatum is the only school in the United States with two players in the national record book's top 10 in 3-pointers made in a single season (Jjamie Bradley with 171 in 2003 and Robbie Rockwell with 168 in 2013)

WHITE OAK

Mascot: Roughnecks

Coach: Brett Cloud (42-40)

District: 16-3A (Beckville, New Diana, Jefferson, Elysian Fields, Harleton, Ore City, Waskom)

2016-17 record: 26-8

Top returning players: Cameron Bates (8 points, 7 rebounds) ... Andrew Hood (7.5 points) ... Stone Palmer (4 points, 4 rebounds) ... Kason Kienzle

Newcomers to watch: Chandler Benson ... Seth Garcia ... Max Lamana

You can count on: "White Oak will feature strong guard play with a fundamentally-sound teamm that will play with high intensity." — Cloud

Needs work: "A lack of varsity experience in some of our important role players." — Cloud

Did you know: White Oak has been to the playoffs in each of the last 18 seasons

JEFFERSON

Mascot: Bulldogs

Coach: Treston Dowell

District: 16-3A (Beckville, White Oak, New Diana, Elysian Fields, Harleton, Ore City, Waskom)

2016-17 record: 25-7

Top returning players: Dee Mitchell ... Cameron Hicks ... Kylan Thomas ... Kepha Luster

Newcomers to watch: Eric Gipson

You can count on: "We'll be fast and athletic, as well as hard-nosed on defense." — Dowell

Needs work: "Our ability to gel together on offense to be a well-rounded team." — Dowell

Did you know: Dowell led Avinger to a state championship as a player in 1996 and as a coach in 2016

ELYSIAN FIELDS

Mascot: Yellowjackets

Coach: Akimba "AJ" Johnson

District: 16-3A (Jefferson, Beckville, White Oak, New Diana, Elysian Fields, Harleton, Ore City, Waskom)

Top returning players: Brandon Wilkerson ... Cole Myers ... Chris Smith ... Jade Ashalintubbi

Newcomers to watch: Michael Ramirez ... Tyrese Hardamen ... Cade Shaffer

You can count on: "We'll be a defensive-minded team. I want to be able to rely heavily on getting stops on the defensive end." — Johnson

Needs work: "We will be a fairly young team, so just getting used to the game speed will be a huge task." — Johnson

Did you know: Johnson was an assistant coach at Jacksonville the past two seasons. This is his first full-time head coaching job

BECKVILLE

Mascot: Bearcats

Coach: Andre Jones (11-17)

District: 16-3A (New Diana, Elysian Fields, Harleton, Jefferson, Ore City, Waskom, White Oak)

2016-17 record: 11-17

Top returning players: Stephen Darden (14 points, 9 rebounds, 8 assists) ... Trey Lindsay (14 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assists) ... C.J. Robinson (10 points, 10 rebounds)

Newcomers to watch: Nate Marry

You can count on: "The Bearcats matured this summer after participating in the East Texas Hoops Classic. The Bearcats played great team basketball, eliminated unnecessary turnovers and played hard. You can count on these Bearcats to challenge and compete every night." — Jones

Needs work: "We need to improve our rebounding and defensive fundamentals." — Jones

Did you know: The Bearcats have seven district championships in basketball to go along with two area championships ... Beckville reached the state semifinals in 1998 with a school record 32 wins (32-5) under coach Alan Simmons

ORE CITY

Mascot: Rebels

Coach: Brad Tindel

District: 16-4A (New Diana, Elysian Fields, Beckville, Harleton, Jefferson, Waskom, White Oak)

Top returning players: Joe Campbell ... Keyshawn Kyle ... JaShaun Cook

Newcomers to watch: Garrett Young ... Aaron Nigreville ... Tanner Organ ... David Andrews

You can count on: "We'll be athletic with good team speed." — Tindel

Needs work: "Team defense and consistency." — Tindel

Did you know: The Rebels lost four all-district players from last year's squad

WASKOM

Mascot: Wildcats

Coach: Dylan Augustine

District: 16-3A (White Oak, Jefferson, Elysian Fields, New Diana, Ore City, Beckville, Harleton)

2016-17 record: 4-15

Top returning players: KT Ceasar (11 points) ... LaMontre Stephens (12 points)

Newcomers to watch: Isaac Irving

You can count on: "The leadership of KT Ceaser." — Augustine

Needs work: "Defensively, we need to play more sound." — Augustine

Did you know: Waskom has a new auxiliary gymnasium to practice and play games

SABINE

Mascot: Cardinals

Coach: Colby Carr

District: 15-3A (Arp, Troup, Cumberland Academy, West Rusk, Winona, Harmony)

2016-17 record: 17-8

Top returning players: Will Shawn (17.5 points, 4.7 rebounds, 2.8 assists) ... Eylan Goodwyn (9 points, 3.9 rebounds0 ... T. Taylor ... Hunter Grotemat

You can count on: "We will have plenty of experience (seven seniors) and return virtually the entire team from last season. Expectations are high, as they should be. We will play fast and pressure opponents for 32 minutes." — Carr

Needs work: "We need to improve defensively, both as individual and as a team. We also must develop championship caliber mental and physical toughness as well as doing all the little things that are required to hang banners." — Carr

Did you know: Carr is a 2007 White Oak graduate, and his younger brother, Caleb, was the MVP of White Oak's 2012 Class 2A state championship win over Brock ... Carr is also related to longtime Tatum coach Brett Carr ... Sabine lost in the bi-district playoffs last season to White Oak (57-47)

HARMONY

Mascot: Eagles

Coach: Clint Helpenstill

District: 15-3A (Arp, Cumberland Academy, Winona, Troup, Sabine, West Rusk)

2016-17 record: 10-16

Top returning players: Spencer Seahorn (11.3 points, 5.4 rebounds, 2.4 assists) ... Trev Buckley (30 percent 3-point shooter) ... Cameron Helpenstill ... Easton Blackstone ... Drew McNeel

Newcomers to watch: Trent Hart ... Michael Dee Settles ... Chris McMillan

You can count on: "Our kids will play hard and compete." — Helpenstill

Needs work: "Emphasis will be defense. We need to improve with each practice and each game." — Helpenstill

Did you know: Helpenstill is in his sixth season at Harmony

WEST RUSK

Mascot: Raiders

Coach: Donald Hubbard

District: 15-3A (Arp, Cumberland Academy, Harmony, Troup, Sabine, Winona)

You can count on: "We'll be athletic and fast. We will be up and down the floor with non-stop pressure on both ends of the floor." — Hubbard

Needs work: "This is a new system, so it will take some getting acclimated to, but once the kids learn the fast paced game they will enjoy and have fun playing the game." — Hubbard

HUGHES SPRINGS

Mascot: Mustangs

Coach: Jeremy Griffin

District: 14-3A (Daingerfield, Queen City, New Boston, Paul Pewitt, Redwater, Hooks, DeKalb)

2016-17 record: 12-17

Top returning players: Chandler King (11.2 points, 10 rebounds, 3 assists) ... Tradarian Craver (11.4 points, 7.8 rebounds) ... Bryce Johnston ... Ja'Kobie Craver

Newcomers to watch: Brennan Dowell

You can count on: "Chemistry and athleticism. We've got the pieces we need to compete in district — size, speed and shooting ability. We have depth on the bench to help out. Defense will be key for us." — Griffin

Needs work: "Rebounding and limiting second-chance points." — Griffin

Did you know: King was a second team All-East Texas pick by the Longview News-Journal last season

PAUL PEWITT

Mascot: Brahmas

Coach: Jonathan Ladd

District: 14-3A (Daingerfield, Queen City, New Boston, Redwater, Hooks, DeKalb, Hughes Springs)

2016-17 record: 10-9

Top returning players: Sam Smith ... Lucas Hungerford ... DJ Turner ... Twon Heath

You can count on: "We will be a very hard working, aggressive team. We'll be athletic." — Ladd

Needs work: "We'll need to mesh with a new offense." — Ladd

Did you know: This is the 23-year-old Ladd's first season as a head basketball coach ... Paul Pewitt made the playoffs last year for the first time in 12 seasons

UNION GROVE

Mascot: Lions

Coach: Dee Lewis (108-70)

District: 16-2A (Big Sandy, Hawkins, Gary, Overton, Carlisle)

2016-17 record: 18-11

Top returning players: Buzzy Caviness ... Cade Judd ... Colbey Cox ... Dalton Borden

You can count on: "Effort and heart. They know how to take a hit and keep moving forward. There is no quit in them." — Lewis

Needs work: "Ball handling, playing big, shooting outside, rebounding and finishing strong." — Lewis

Did you know: Lewis is 93-55 as a head coach at Union Grove ... The Lions will play Gladewater this season. Lewis played at Gladewater under current Bears head coach Curtis Armstrong

OVERTON

Mascot: Mustangs

Coach: Stephen Hathaway

District: 16-2A (Big Sandy, Gary, Union Grove, Hawkins, Carlisle)

2016-17 record: 13-12

Top returning players: Shawn Sartors ... Brady Brown

Newcomers to watch: Jaylon Shelton

You can count on: "Our team will be competitive and play hard." — Hathaway

Needs work: "Defense. We will need great defense in order to be competitive in our district." — Hathaway

Did you know: The Mustangs lost in the opening round of the playoffs last season to McLeod, 63-53

CARLISLE

Mascot: Indians

Coach: Jerod Roland

District: 16-2A (Big Sandy, Gary, Union Grove, Hawkins, Overton)

2016-17 record: 2-15

Top returning players: Gerald Turner ... Max Jackson ... Brayden Martin

Newcomers to watch: Jonathan Fraser ... Luis Adame ... Jay Price

You can count on: "The same Carlisle mentality." — Roland

Needs work: "Winning more basketball games." — Roland

Did you know: Carlisle defeated Gary, Laneville and Cherino in the Central Heights summer league this past summer

BIG SANDY

Mascot: Wildcats

Coach: Kerry Strong (152-106)

District: 16-2A (Hawkins, Gary, Overton, Carlisle, Union Grove)

2016-17 record: 25-6

Top returning players: Josiah Johnson (28.7 points, 9.2 rebounds, 5.5 assists, 4.0 steals) ... Joshua Shipman (12.8 points, 7.5 rebounds)

Newcomers to watch: Dakari Menefee ... Elijah Beard

You can count on: "Experience and toughness. The last two seasons we are 46-14 and we've been to the thhird round two years in a row. I feel like our players now understand what it takes to win. Hopefully, we can use that to advance even further in the playoffs. I feel like we have the potential to be very good offensively." — Strong

Needs work: "Team free throw percentage, defensive rebounding position." — Strong

Did you know: Johnson earned TABC all-state and all-region honors and was the Longview News-Journal's All-East Texas MVP last season ... Strong, who has a 119-92 record at Big Sandy, was the News-Journal's Coach of the Year

LINDEN-KILDARE

Mascot: Tigers

Coach: Greg Gaston (19-10)

District: 15-2A (Avery, Clarksville, Detroit, James Bowie, Maud, McLeod, Rivercrest)

2016-17 record: 19-10

Top returning players: Ja'Kevian Rose (17.7 points, 51 percent field goals, 3.6 steals) ... LaDavion Johnson (7.7 points, 1.3 steals) ... Marquise Jones (8.4 rebounds) ... Ty Patterson (8.3 rebounds, 2 blocks)

Newcomers to watch: Jacob Owen ... Dalton Alford

You can count on: "A year of varsity playing experience will help in trying to push for another playoff berth." — Gaston

Needs work: "Finishing games. We had some rough wins last year. We will need to start fast and finish strong this year to be a contender for the district title." — Gaston

Did you know: Linden-Kildare's trip to the playoffs last year was the first for the Tigers since 2011

AVINGER

Mascot: Indians

Coach: David Schubert

District: 24-A (Union Hill, Fruitvale, Yantis, Bloomburg)

2016-17 record: 2-25

Top returning players: John Courtney ... Jacolby Chism ... Chris Carr ... Jaeron Survia

Newcomers to watch: Bryson Schubert ... Keldyn Schubert ... Kayden Sablan ... Tristen Clark

You can count on: "Energy and excitement." — Schubert

Needs work: "Experience." — Schubert

Did you know: Avinger won state titles in 1997 and 1996 under Ken Loyd and in 2016 under Treston Dowell — who played for Loyd on the 1996 team

TRINITY SCHOOL

Mascot: Titans

Coach: Ken Carter

District: TAPPS 5 1A (Athens Christian, Carthage Northside Christian, Henderson Full Armor, Longview Christian School, St. Mary's, Nacogdoches Regents)

2016-17 record: 8-12

Top returning players: Caleb Liebengood (17 points, 10 rebounds)

Newcomers to watch: Caed Liebengood

You can count on: "Great ball movement." — Carter

Needs work: "Shooting." — Carter

Did you know: Carter was a TABC All-State player in 2009

EAST TEXAS CHRISTIAN

Mascot: Chargers

Coach: Zakarius Wells

District: TCAL 5 1A (King's Academy, Tyler Christian Heritage, Corsicana Agape)

2016-17 record: 14-17

Top returning players: Garrett Oehlert

Newcomers to watch: John Sawyer

You can count on: "I feel good about our work ethic and desire to learn and do better. Great shot selection and knowing what a good and bad shot is." — Wells

Needs work: "We have to be grittier on defense. We are sometimes too nice in letting people score. Knowing where we have to be in defense. especially help-side defense. Once we figure that out, we will become a really good overall team." — Wells

Did you know: Wells played college basketball at LeTourneau University for two seasons

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