Head coach Greg Barnes and the players of Keys are looking to build off their 14-13 season which ended with a loss to Haskell in the final round of Regionals. Barnes is entering his second season with Keys and looks to improve the team from last season.
"It's just a comfort level," said head coach Greg Barnes. "I'm more comfortable with them and I understand what their strengths and weaknesses are better, and I think they're more comfortable with my expectations of them both on the court and off the court. I want them to be the face of Keys High School. I want them to represent themselves, me and the school in a good way whether we are on or off the court."
The Cougars are bringing back the bulk of their roster from last season, only losing two players to graduation. Matt Huffman and Kaden Gower were seniors leaders that led by example, now the team must replace Huffman's offensive presence and Gower's work ethic.
Scotty Wolff is a returning starter that plays in the post but can also stretch the court. He averaged 9.9 points and 5.3 rebounds a game, the most of any returning starter.
Gage Barnes and Logan Yanez will play point guard and the two guard spot. Barnes will be the primary ball handler while Yanez will be a spot-up shooter and defensive player.
Riley Kimble is the team's best shooter from outside the arc. He averaged 7.9 points a game. While he is not the most athletic player on the court, he is very knowledgeable and always seems to know where to be defensively.
Returning the majority of last season's starters is always a good thing, but Greg Barnes believes the team's depth and defensive talent can separate them from their competition.
"I think our depth is really good," said Greg Barnes. "I am excited about that. I also think we have a chance to be a really good defensive team. Offensively I'm uncertain right now. If we shoot well we'll be hard to beat, but on nights that we don't shoot well we'll have to find ways to score: guys are going to have to get to the basket, post guys are going to have to get us some points."
Despite coming off the bench for the most of the season, Bryce Sanders averaged 7.4 points and four rebounds a game. He is the football team's primary running back and arguably the most athletic player on the roster. Greg Barnes expects Sanders to receive an increased role off the bench and claims he can guard most guards and forwards.
Greg Barnes believes he can play nine or 10 players a night. Lane Taylor and Reed Trimble are young players who are expected to receive an increased role with the team.
Of course, every team's goal is to compete in the state tournament and the Cougars are no exception, but they are taking it one step at a time. The team has set goals to win the conference, 20 games and advance further in the playoffs.