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Eads Returns Entire Team and Should be in the Hunt

It’s been a long, cold few years for the Eads Boys’ Basketball program as for nearly a decade they have not been able to produce a winning season. In fact, most every year the Eads teams have been on the bottom of the standings by the finish of the season. Last year was no different as they finished a very disappointing 2-18 season averaging only 35 points per game and having almost as many turnovers each outing.

Eads Eagles 2019-2020  Back row L to R - Ty Wilson, Cade McDowell, Damien Barnes, Ben Splitter, Keaton Coen, Hatch Nelson, Caleb Lane.  Front row L to R  A.J. Vasquez, Joe Haase, Alex Schmidt, Dillon Hernandez, Brandon Lening, Donte Sierra.
Eads Eagles 2019-2020 Back row L to R - Ty Wilson, Cade McDowell, Damien Barnes, Ben Splitter, Keaton Coen, Hatch Nelson, Caleb Lane. Front row L to R A.J. Vasquez, Joe Haase, Alex Schmidt, Dillon Hernandez, Brandon Lening, Donte Sierra.

This year is a different story, however, as last year’s very young and very inexperienced freshmen and sophomores are now older and have grown physically quite a bit. They have also been in the Marcus Gilmore program for a couple of years where Gilmore was forced to break the practices down to the skills level for his young players. This year, however, the skills are there and now it’s time to play ball.

Gilmore states, “This year we return three seniors including Dillon Hernandez, Keaton Coen and Alex Schmidt; 4 juniors (Damien Barnes, Brandon Lening, Hatch Nelson, Joe Haase); 3 sophomores (Cade McDowell, Ty Wilson and Donte Sierra). We also added Ben Splitter, a 6’4 senior from Plainview, and freshmen A.J. Vasquez and Caleb Lane.”
But the good news for Gilmore, “We bring back four starters including Barnes, Wilson, Schmidt, and Nelson.”

Barnes, a 6’3 junior, was the team leader as a sophomore averaging 10.9 points per game, 12.3 rebounds each outing, and dishing off 2.3 assists. Schmidt contributed 5.1 ppg. and 2.6 rpg, Nelson, a junior, had 2.8 ppg. and 2.0 boards per game, Wilson added 4.6 ppg. and 2.9 boards, while Hernandez chipped in 3.8 ppg. and 2.8 rebounds.

Eads has the players this year who can match up physically with most teams. Gilmore is being cautiously optimistic setting a team goal of actually having a .500 season. That doesn’t seem very lofty for some area programs, but for Gilmore and the Eagles, that is a hurdle that has so far eluded them. Gilmore said it best, “It’s been a long time since Eads had a winning season.”

Gilmore goes on to explain how they prepared for the upcoming season, “We had a good summer of basketball and weights. We had guys in the gym all summer long. We found a lot of success over the summer that helped our confidence. Last season having no experience gave us a deer in the headlights look for most of the games. We just hadn’t been through it yet. I can already tell that’s gone. We’ve been through situations now and know what to expect.”

Eads will begin on the road meeting up with the Flagler/Hi-Plains group on December 6. They then enter the Border Wars on December 12-14, a tough tournament that will test them right away. At the end of the preseason they will look forward to a much more enjoyable Lamar Holiday Basketball Tournament on December 19-21 where they hope to make it to the night sessions.

Gilmore is excited for his team this year, “Last season humbled us for sure, but it also is what gives us strength this year. It made us put in the extra time in the summer. Most of all it made us motivated! We have a good shot this year to get things turned around and reestablish winning for Eads Basketball.”

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