Lee’s Summit North boys basketball coach Mike Hilbert doesn’t have the depth to substitute in waves this season, so that part of the Broncos’ game will change.
One thing won’t: North is going to put up a lot of three-pointers.
The loss of a talented senior class means Hilbert won’t have as many veteran bodies, but the ones he still has are plenty capable of scoring from outside the arc, something the Broncos did at frenetic pace during last year’s 13-12 campaign.
“I think basketball skill-wise we’re better than we were last year,” Hilbert said. “But we’re definitely not as deep.”
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Philosophically, Hilbert likes to push the tempo and let fly from the perimeter. He had an abundance of outside shooters last season and not much size, so he put a premium on three-point shots.
Hilbert believes he has the personnel to make the philosophy work again.
Javaunte Hawkins, a 5-foot-10 junior guard, returns after making a school-record 79 three-pointers last season, including nine in one game, along with Logan Jenkins, a 6-3 senior guard, who made 59 threes last season.
Mikel Henderson, a 6-0 junior point guard who didn’t play last season, also is capable of making threes, Hilbert said, as are 6-1 senior guard Jack Gatti and 6-5 junior forward Tommy Erwin.
“We’ve got about five guys that I feel comfortable in taking threes,” Hilbert said. “We’re going to try to push the pace and get shots up. We want to make sure they’re good shots and not guarded shots.”
Hawkins, Jenkins, Henderson, and Crawford are projected to be starters with 6-8 senior forward Elijah Farr.
Farr, a returning letterman along with Hawkins and Jenkins, could be the determining factor in North’s success. If he develops into a force under the basket, the Broncos’ outside attack could become more effective.
“He’s definitely a big part of what we’ve got going on, whether it’s to throw it in and kick it back outside or to throw it in and have him face and make some plays,” Hilbert said. “But we definitely need balance, because, if we’re just perimeter-focused, teams are just going to get up and guard us.”
Losing seniors like Emil Spriggs, Cameron Hairston, Hayden Bradford, and Justin Root leaves North smaller and thinner.
Hilbert’s rotation went 10-deep last season. That won’t happen this season, but Hilbert still expects the Broncos to develop additional depth.
“We’re not as deep, so we won’t rotate groups of four or five,” Hilbert said. “But those guys off the bench are going to have to be on the court at times, and they’re going to have to fill those role-player positions. We don’t have five guys that can play 32 minutes.”
North played 10 against Lee’s Summit during the third and final scrimmage Nov. 16 at a jamboree inside the Tigers’ Fieldhouse. The Broncos, who struggled from deep early against the Tigers’ tight defense and lost the first quarter by double digits, rallied to win the second quarter.
“Offensively, we’re going to have to understand what a great shot is and take great shots,” Hilbert said. “We’re going to be more patient than a high school guy wants to be.”
North’s first game is Nov. 28 against Rockhurst at the Broncos Fieldhouse.