Evangel Christian Academy coach Kerwin Washington had big ideas about his 2019-20 basketball team after winning the Class A state championship last fall.
Tournament Most Valuable Player Tyree Curry was returning, along with 12 of the 13 players on the roster.
A year later, Washington will open the 2019-20 season with five players from last year’s roster, including a quartet of sophomores with no prior varsity experience.
“That was a blow,” Washington said. “We saw that this summer. That definitely hurts us as far as depth, but six of the seven would have been seniors and at least three of those I had for three years so that experience is gone.”
Three of those players moved out of state, two others returned to public school and one enrolled in a private school in another county, leaving Washington with four returning starters but little experience past that.
Curry, Marcus Townsend, David Werking and Jordan Grice return and will be joined in the starting lineup by Jakolvian Johnson, a transfer from Sidney Lanier. Reserve Jon Michael Clemons, the only other holdover from the 2018-19 roster, is joined by five newcomers.
Washington is looking for more production from the starters around Curry, but in the Lions’ season opening tournament Thursday, he’ll focus more on the guys on the bench who will provide the depth crucial to Evangel’s success this season.
“In the first game, I just want them to get their feet wet,” he said. “Losing what we lost, and a lot of that was experience, these games are to build depth with the kids that we have on the bench. I’m not worried about our starting group but they can’t play a whole game.
“Developing the young guys and getting them experience in these first three games is probably the biggest thing because three of them have never played varsity basketball and some of them have never played organized basketball before.”
EVANGEL CHRISTIAN ACADEMY
Eastwood Christian vs. Hooper Academy boys, 3 p.m.
Pike Liberal vs. Northside Methodist girls, 4:30 p.m.
Evangel Christian vs. Sparta Academy girls, 6 p.m.
Evangel Christian vs. Sparta Academy boys, 7:30 p.m.
Sparta Academy vs. Eastwood Christian boys, 3 p.m.
Sparta Academy vs. Pike Liberal girls, 4:30 p.m.
Northside Methodist vs. Evangel Christian girls, 6 p.m.
Hooper Academy vs. Evangel Christian boys, 7:30 p.m.
Pike Liberal vs. Evangel Christian girls, 11 a.m.
Eastwood Christian vs. Evangel Christian boys, 12:30 p.m.