The first season for a new coach is tricky, according to first-year South Whidbey boys basketball coach Greg Turcott, but it helps when the squad is loaded with talent.
The Falcons return seven lettermen, including four starters, from last year’s 14-8 club. Several seniors played key roles as sophomores when South Whidbey won its first conference championship in 29 years in 2017-18.
The one player the Falcons did lose to graduation, Kody Newman, led the team in scoring and was the North Sound Conference’s Most Valuable Player.
Back, however, are seniors Carson Wrightson and captain Levi Buck, second-team, all-league selections last winter, and Dexter Jokinen, who earned honorable mention. Wrightson picked up the honor despite missing half the season with a back injury. Jokinen was tabbed as the Falcons’ Defensive Player of the Year.
Turcott called Wrightson his “most talented” player, one who should have a huge impact if he can stay healthy.
Buck is “a very good player who really knows how to play the game,” according to Turcott.
In addition to being a defensive standout, Jokinen is a “terrific outside shooter,” Turcott said.
The fourth returning starter is Nick Young, who Turcott labeled a “great leader and great point guard.”
Last year’s sixth man, junior Sterling Patton, is a “smart player,” Turcott said, and senior Kole Nelson is a “tough kid who has a really good motor.”
Rounding out the returning letter winners is sophomore Jacob Ng, who is a “basketball junkie” who loves the game,” according to Turcott.
Seniors Andrew Fry and Wyatt De Mers and juniors Cody Eager and Luke Rookstool should also contribute, Turcott said.
One of the keys for success, according to Turcott, is for the team and new coach to get to know each other.
“I am trying to help the guys feel comfortable in a new system,” he said.
“The kids really liked coach (Mike) Washington,” Turcott added. “They had fun playing for him, and I want to keep that. I might coach differently, but I want the kids to love the game and to have a good time playing it.”
In addition to the team’s experience, a strength for the Falcons will be their size.
“At the end of the day, height is a big advantage at this level,” Turcott said.
“We also have a good mix of basketball players and good athletes,” he added.
Turcott noted his team does many things well, but it can’t stay stagnate if it wants to continue to succeed.
“We need to keep improving at both ends of the floor,” he said. “If we do that and continue to do the little things, we are going to have a really good year.”
“A really good year,” Turcott said, is reaching the state tournament.
“If we play hard and together, we will win some games and play late into March,” he said. “Getting to the state tournament would be a great thing for this team.”
The Falcons begin the season with four consecutive home games, starting with Chimacum (2-15 last year) at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 4.