The circumstances surrounding the start of District 5-5A play are familiar for the Ryan boys basketball team.
For the second straight season, the Raiders enter a challenging district slate after things have been far from smooth for the team.
But when Ryan plays at home at 7:30 tonight against Lewisville, its slate will be wiped clean and the only thing that will matter will be the next 10 games.
“Basketball’s a funny sport,” Ryan coach Bryce Overstreet said. “Momentum changes — it can change in a possession. We’re going to show up every day and we’re going to work hard every day, and we hope that the end result gets us some wins along the way.”
Ryan is still looking for its first district win since moving up to Class 5A in 2013. The task will be difficult for Ryan (6-10), which enters tonight’s game following a lopsided loss to Frisco Lone Star on Tuesday.
Lewisville (14-3) was the final team from 5-5A to make the playoffs last season, but this year the Fighting Farmers are ranked 11th in Class 5A by the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches.
Ryan will be looking to steal one of the district’s four playoff spots. Overstreet said the main challenges the team will have to overcome are its lack of height and depth.
“We struggled with that some last year,” Overstreet said. “Every team in the district has a couple of 6-6 [or] 6-7 players. Most of their guards are anywhere from 6-foot to 6-3. We’re going to have to try to overcome that with our quickness.”
Ryan has no player in its starting lineup taller than 6-2 senior forward Devin Kiner.
“We always want to try to make the playoffs, but considering what we have right now, it’s going to be a little bit tougher,” junior guard Zach Brooks said. “We don’t have much size, and that’s going to be huge.”
Another problem Ryan faces is its tendency to struggle scoring points, something that the Raiders dealt with last season, when most of the key contributors from the 2012 team that reached the Class 4A state tournament departed.
Overstreet said this year’s team doesn’t have the offensive power to play a high number of possessions within a game. In turn, the Raiders will need to limit the number of possessions like they did last season, while defending well and then being selective on offense.
“For every year that we’ve been at Ryan, we’ve had a scorer,” Overstreet said. “We struggled in that area last year, and we’re struggling a little bit in that area this year. It’s always been a team concept, but we’re going to have to trust our system in order to achieve what we want to come mid-February.”
Junior guard A.J. Hill said it was slightly embarrassing going winless in district play a year after the team was one of the final Class 4A teams standing. Hill said the Raiders are ready to pick up that first district win and improve on last season while continuing their growth from the start of the season.
“At the beginning of the year, we were unsure about our team,” Hill said. “We really didn’t know what we were going in with, but now we feel like we have at least something going into district.”
BEN BABY can be reached at 940-566-6869 and via Twitter at @Ben_Baby.
District 5-5A capsules
Coach: Kit Pehl (10th year as head coach, second at Coppell)
2012-13 record: 17-18 (5-5, third in district)
Players to watch: F Simi Socks, G Landon Goesling, F, Josh Feitl, G Cody Carver
Flower Mound Jaguars
Coach: Jason Fossett (17th year as head coach, second at Flower Mound)
2012-13 record: 26-11 (7-3, 2nd in district)
Players to watch: G Jake Feickert, G Connor Green, G Colby Cox, F John Frischenmeyer
Flower Mound Marcus Marauders
Coach: Clay Cody (10th year as head coach, second at Marcus)
2012-13 record: 15-21 (4-6, fifth in district)
Players to watch: F Xavier Adams, G Jack Holden, G Michael Mayhew
Coach: Mark Bishop (20th year as head coach, 14th at Hebron)
2012-13 record: 36-3 (10-0, 1st in district)
Players to watch: G Tyler Williams, C Connor McClenaghan, G Jeremy Hicks
Lewisville Fighting Farmers
Coach: Gary Collier (seventh year as head coach, third at Lewisville)
2012-13 record: 15-13 (4-6, 4th in district)
Players to watch: F Anthony Davis, G Diamante Langston, G Marquis Williams, G/F Kaelin Love
Coach: Bryce Overstreet
2012-13 record: 13-16 (0-10, sixth in district)
Players to watch: G Ibrahim Logan, G Zach Brooks, G A.J. Hill