Future is bright for boys’ basketball program

Terrell Williams Five

column shots.qxdDespite the season being cut one-game short of their ultimate goal, there is plenty to be excited about for the Mustang boys’ basketball program.

The Bronco boys’ basketball team finished their 2013-2014 season in the state semi-finals with a loss to Putnam City West and an overall record of 22-7.

“They definitely can take the feeling they have right now into next year, because it’s not a good feeling,” Mustang head coach Terry Long said. “Whatever your weakness is, then you work on it to get better, regardless of what it is.”

The bad news for the Mustang basketball program is it finished one game shy of its ultimate goal this season. The good news for the Broncos is Mustang loses only one player to graduation from their normal rotation.

Guard Demarion Love played his final season of high school basketball with Mustang in 2013-2014. The 6-feet 3-inch wing guard was known for his hustle plays on the Broncos’ squad this season. Love was Mustang’s best overall perimeter defender, using his length and athleticism against opponents’ best perimeter offensive players game-in and game-out.

Love will be missed next year, but Mustang will be considered one of the favorites to bring home the gold ball next season.

The Broncos will return 10 players who played a significant role in the rotation this season for Long and his staff.

Five of those 10 players will be seniors next year for Mustang. Guards Terrell Williams, Isaiah Hammons, Aubrey Johnson and forwards Geoffrey Hightower and Dylan Snyder will enter their last season with the Broncos next year.

Williams will return as the team’s leading scorer next season. His improved play this year helped the Broncos on both ends of the floor in the semi-final run.

Hammons didn’t play much in the final two weeks of the year because of a severe ankle injury he sustained late in the regular season. Hammons showed the ability to guard the perimeter and take the ball to the basket on the offensive end of the court.

Johnson was on his way to having a strong season for the Broncos, but several weeks into the year, the sharp-shooting guard suffered a season-ending broken foot. If Johnson can make a full comeback next season, he will help the Broncos immensely with his outside shooting.

Hightower earned his role as the bruiser for the Mustang boys this season. The 6-feet 5-inch post player adapted his physical style of play to Long’s up tempo game and became a low-post threat for the Broncos.

Snyder was the team’s hustle player inside this year. His tenacity to make plays against bigger and stronger opponents earned him more and more playing time as the season progressed.

The other half of the 10 returnees next season will be juniors. Guards Jakolby Long, Binky Colbert and Kejuan Frazier with forwards Austin Meyer and Bryce Roberts will try and improve their games for next year.

Jakolby Long will be counted on as a team leader next season. The 6-feet 4-inch combo guard provided mismatches all over the court with the quickness to get around defenders on the perimeter and the size and strength to score in the paint.

Colbert showed spurts this season of being a solid player for the Broncos, but needs to be more consistent next year as a reliable scorer off the bench.

Frazier came on late in the year for Long and his staff as an outside shooter for Mustang. He will be counted on to impact the team in every area next season.

Meyer made great strides from his freshman to sophomore season, but will be expected to make similar strides going into next year. The 6-feet 9-inch post player showed improvement on both ends of the floor this season for Mustang.

Roberts was a tough inside defender and rebounder off the bench this year for Mustang. He had the ability with his size to battle down in the paint with bigger opponents. He will be counted on to do the same next season.

Perhaps the most exciting player next year for the Broncos will be guard Curtis Haywood II. The slick 6-feet 4-inch combo wing was ruled ineligible for varsity athletics this season by the OSSAA, but will be able to play next year for Mustang.

Haywood II played junior varsity this season, and showed many signs of being an All-State caliber player when he joins the varsity ranks.

If the Broncos can avoid disastrous injuries next year, there are many reasons for the Mustang community to be excited for this boys’ basketball team one year from now, anything less than a gold ball will be a disappointment.