By Lily Belcher
Last year, the Durant High School varsity basketball team ended the season 20-6, winning fifth in the 7A District under former Head Coach Sean Hayes. After eight of the 17 athletes graduated and Coach Hayes left, newly hired Head Coach Jacob Baer has been tasked with leading the 2021-2022 Durant basketball team to the playoffs for the fifth year in a row.
Baer has been the assistant coach for Durant’s varsity basketball team for three years. After Hayes left, he applied for the position as head coach and was hired at the beginning of October during preseason conditioning.
The optional conditioning for varsity basketball prospects started in mid-September before and after school.
“We’ll have shooting drills, and we will also do team-oriented drills, whether it be going through plays or whether it be working on individual spots in plays,” said shooting guard Tyler Eads. “It just helps us know what role we have on the court to be able to better ourselves and benefit the team.”
One of the challenges facing Durant’s 2021-2022 team is that their entire team is under 6’9”. To make up for the advantage they may not have in height, the athletes are conditioning to be one of the fastest teams in the county this year, which will help them on defense and breakaway plays.
Baer’s goals for the season are to lead the team to districts and help one of his seniors, Douglas Blackwood, get a scholarship at the end of his senior year.
“We have one senior who really wants a basketball scholarship. He really wants to go play college basketball,” Baer said about Blackwood. “My goal, personally, is to make that goal happen.”
Throughout conditioning, Baer has already seen the dynamic between his teammates forming, even ahead of tryouts.
Tryouts for the Durant basketball team were on November 1 and 2, two weeks before their first preseason game and a month before their first regular season game on Tuesday, November 30.
“I think we need to win districts. I think that is our number one goal,” said Baer. “I’d like to be named the best public school in the county. I think we are more than capable of it. But I really just want to grow the kids.”
For more information on the Durant varsity basketball team, contact Baer at firstname.lastname@example.org.