Head coach Tyler Thetford, in his second season with the Lexington Bulldogs, is excited about the upcoming season.
“The outlook for this team is extremely positive. We have several seniors who return in-game experience. I expect this team to be well over .500 this season.”
Last season the Bulldogs were knocked out in the Regional tournament by Lone Grove and finished with a 9-16 record.
Lost to graduation were Ezra Faulkenberry, Corbin Perry, Trey Hartzog and Tate Collier.
Six seniors return this season and Thetford looks to lean on them. They are Ty Mixon, Drew Dierking, Skylar Rollins, Gage LaGace, Hunter Olson and Zeke Faulkenberry.
“Experience is our biggest strength. These guys know each other. They are comfortable together,” Thetford said.
He specifically mentioned Mixon, who has been shooting the ball very well in the preseason and Rollins, who Thetford expects to be dominant in the low post.
But, as much playing time his seniors have amassed in their time at Lexington, that experience has a significant dropoff as Thetford looks outside his starting line up.
“We’ll have to go deeper into the bench to build the experience of the underclassmen. We have enough for a JV team this year, so that will help give those guys in-game minutes,” Thetford said.
On the schedule for Lexington are perennial rivalries for the Bulldogs to include Purcell and Davis. But also new teams like Stratford and Wynnewood, as Lexington has switched conferences.
“The schedule sets up well for us. And, we’ve had lots of conversations as a team about the opportunity in front of them and seizing the moment. We have to take advantage of the schedule we have,” Thetford said.
“If the boys show up like I know they can, we can have a lot of success this season.”
Jacobi Couch is in his second year leading the Lexington Lady Bulldogs. Last season, his team was knocked out of the postseason by Comanche and graduated Leslie Barber, Rylee Beason, Janelle Winterton and Maddie Manuel.
“We’ll miss their leadership and presence on the court, but we have another senior class that is shaping up to be a good group of leaders and will make big contributions to this team,” Couch said.
Several girls have made waves in the preseason for Couch. One of those is Mackenzie Manuel who will be a rover for Lexington while Abby Sample will be a solid presence on the floor.
Jordan Hardy will be the point guard for the Lady ‘Dawgs.
“Jordan has developed tremendously over the summer and I will look to her to run our offense,” Couch said.
Another player that caught the coach’s eye in the preseason was Charli Moore.
“Charli has made a huge impact. She’s definitely going to be in the mix and a leader on the floor.”
Kiely Givens is back on the basketball team this year and Couch is excited to have her height in the post for Lexington.
“With tall girls like Kiely, Landri (Bean), Natalie (Dicksion) and Ryleigh (Markovich) we have some significant size to lean on.”
Couch said that if he had to make a starting lineup today, he’d have seniors Jordan Hardy, Charli Moore, Abby Sample and Kiely Givens and sophomore Mackenzie Manuel round out his first five.
“I have a bunch of girls who can go compete every day. I’ll probably consistently play 10 girls,” Couch said.
As the season gets started Couch sees his team’s speed and size as their strength.
“Not many teams can say they have speed and size, but we have lots of long girls and we’ll rely on a fast, uptempo game.”
But, Couch is also preaching an “us versus us” mindset.
“We have to have confidence in us. When things don’t go our way, we can’t get down. We have to respond and move on to the the next play. Our motto is ‘eyes up’,” Couch said.
As always, Lexington’s schedule is chock-full of tough matchups and exciting games, but Couch believes Stratford and Purcell will be good tests for his squad.
Lexington has switched conferences and Couch and his team feel like this works in their favor.
“This is huge for us. Not every game is life or death, but we feel like we can make some noise in 3A.”
Couch believes his team will surprise people.
“We’re an up-and-coming team. We’ll be solid and people better pay attention.”
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