BASTROP — A new era begins when the Marble Falls High School boys basketball program takes the floor against Bastrop Cedar Creek on Nov. 18.
The game tips off at 8 p.m. at 793 Union Chapel Road in Bastrop.
New head coach Paul Gammage, a graduate of Dripping Springs High School, takes the reins for the Mustangs.
Marble Falls is his first head coaching job. He also had assistant coaching stops at Ingram Tom Moore, Hays Consolidated and Leander Rouse.
Gammage conducted tryouts Nov. 7-8 and has settled on 11 players for the varsity: seniors Travis Walker, Fredo Mata, Chris Hooten, D’Anthony Wall, Emmanuel Montoya, Drake Harkins, Melvin Sanchez, Cooper Lawson and James Ramos; junior O’Ryan Fickliln; and sophomore Cade Cool.
“We had a lot of interest,” Gammage said. “We have a lot of freshmen and seniors that make for an interesting level of play. We have a good mix of talent, skill and athletic ability.”
The freshman squad has 14 athletes, while the junior varsity has 10. Gammage said having that number of subvarsity players together will pay dividends.
Gammage, who is the Mustangs’ third head coach in four years, said his teams will be known for several things.
“We’re going to be a physical team, not afraid to mix it up. We have to be with our size,” he said. “We’ll be tough physically and mentally. We really want to be a vocal team on offense and defense. We’re going to play hard and loud and support each other. We’ll take on the identity of what I want us to be.”
The Mustangs took part in physical drills, Gammage said, and coaches encourage diving on the floor for loose balls.
He credits his athletes, specifically the seniors, for their willingness to learn a new scheme.
“That’s always one of the hardest things for a new coach taking over, especially seniors playing in a certain system,” he said.
So to help the Mustangs remember the way Gammage wants the schemes executed, the athletes go through drills that break up plays into parts. And he gives them situational basketball scrimmages for which he tells them the number of dribbles, passes or other parts of an offensive play they must perform before attempting a shot.
“We have a bunch of different actions we can call out to make them think about it,” the coach said. “For seniors, it’s hard to change habits midstream. We work really hard to try to establish that relationship and trust.”
As for District 25-5A play, Gammage said he believes the competition will be as solid as it has been. That goes back to the riches of talent in the district as well as how coaching staffs know how to prepare their players.
“We probably have the best coaches within a hundred miles,” he said. “They all come from fantastic backgrounds. They all enjoy the highest levels of success.”
Cedar Park is ranked No. 6 in the Class 5A poll of the Texas Basketball Coaches Association. Gammage said he believes the Timberwolves will be better than the team that reached the state tournament in 2010-2011. The district is rounded out by Cedar Park Vista Ridge, Dripping Springs, Georgetown, Georgetown East View, Leander and Leander Vandegrift.
Because eight teams are in the district, there are no byes, so coaches will not have the opportunity to scout once division play begins Dec. 19.