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Purcell Basketball

Dragons open season Friday

On the road at Lindsay

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Roger Raper begins his sixth season at the helm of the Dragons when they hit the hard court  at Lindsay December 1.

His counterpart Toney Cooper begins his second season as head coach of the girls.

Raper is replacing four starters and a bevy of talented seniors who graduated last May in Hayden Ice, Malachi Evans, Lincoln Eubank, Hayden Renfro and Brody Galyean.

The lone returning starter off last year’s 24-4 squad is junior Kobe Freeman, who was named second team All-Conference last season.

“His experience, leadership and scoring will be counted on greatly this season,” Raper said. “Kobe will be one of the top players in our conference. We look forward to watching him take his game to another level.

“He had a tremendous off season and is up to the challenge of leading this team,” the coach said.

Purcell’s lone senior on the roster is 6’4” Kylen DeFreeze so the 23-24 Dragons will be a very young and inexperienced.

“Kylen has worked extremely hard on his game and should be a major factor in determining our success,” Raper continued. “His athleticism and length and having the experience from last season should help propel his game as a consistent leader in scoring and rebounding.”

Also returning is 6’ junior Brayden Tharp.

“It will be hard to find any player that plays with the energy and effort that Brayden brings every day,” Raper said. “I am excited to watch his growth as a player on both ends of the court.”

The man in the middle this season will be 6’3” Jaime Resendiz.

“Jaime is a left-handed big that can score with either hand and has the ability to score from 15 feet and in. His ability to handle the ball and guard on the perimeter will also help our team be more versatile.

Newcomer Seth Bunch will give the Dragons more length and size on the defensive end.

Bunch is a 6’3” forward who is improving his scoring every day, the coach reported.

“Kevin Resendiz has worked very hard and has earned a spot in adding depth to the post area,” Raper said. “We have several sophomores and freshmen who will help contribute each night. Their ability to catch up with the speed and strength of the varsity level will determine how much depth we will have.

Raper reports that sophomores Kyler Rangel, Deaken Dobbins, Alex Rojo, Oscar Wren, Ryder Ward, Maddox Ward and freshmen Drew Blair, Galiel Solis and Kyeston Martin will all have opportunities to contribute.

“Each of them adds a different element to the game and helps make this team better,” Raper said.

The veteran coach reports 6’2” junior Aaden Troxel has been lost for the year due to injury.

“We’re looking forward to this year and know we will have a target on our back each night,” Raper said. “I think we can have a very nice team. It may just take a little longer with all the youth and inexperience.”

Much like the boys, coach Cooper’s girls were hit pretty hard by graduation including the likes of Lauren Holmes, KK Eck, Yoseline Estrada and Genesis Canales.

Returning starters off last year’s 21-8 squad include Kenna Esparza, Tinley Winters and  Ella Resendiz.

“Kenna and Ella are coming off a successful softball season that ended in the state championship game,” Cooper said.

“We’re counting on their leadership to carry our basketball team all the way as well!

“Tinley Winters continues to improve with each opportunity to compete, expecting big things from her this season,” Cooper said.

A strength of this edition of Dragon basketball will be quality numbers.

“We are an extremely deep team this season,” Cooper said.

“Last year a point of focus was the development of our bench. Those girls have greatly improved,” the coach said.

“Hadleigh Harp is back and fully healthy. Haven Buchanan has improved both offensively and defensively. Jenna Avery had a great summer and is looking really good as well. Hannah Whitaker has looked sharp during preseason, also.”

Best bets off the bench?

“Alyssa Thompson has worked hard on her game and will be that punch off the bench,”Cooper confirmed.

“Lili Del Toro gives us much needed depth at the point guard position and rounding out is KK Vazquez a big guard who can defend and compete at a high level.”

Bri Wren and Ashlee McClung are both newcomers from Southmoore and Frederick High School who can step right in and help.

“Both bring so much on court experience to our basketball team. Both are very diverse offensively and are welcomed assets to our basketball team.

The overall outlook?

“I expect to see more growth this season in our team,” Cooper said. “We are deeper so that will allow us to be much more aggressive defensively.

“Our goal remains the same to make a run at state. Excited for this season and to see what this group can accomplish,” he concluded.

Dragon notes:

Purcell opens the season Friday at Lindsay with the girls tipping off at 6:30 p.m. followed by the boys game.

The following weekend, Purcell will be in the Madill Tournament Thursday through Saturday.

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