Lone Grove boys basketball hopes for turnaround season

Beau Bearden
bbearden@gannett.com

The Lone Grove High School team dealt with its fair share of struggles a year ago during a long and grueling season. A lot of that had to do with youth and inexperience, but head coach John Garrett is hoping for a turnaround during the 2020-21 campaign.

“I kind of expect the guys this year to be a little bit more seasoned in the fact that basketball is a long season,” he said. “I think that they kind of have an understanding of that and what you have to bring every day, and that every game matters. It’s not just a hobby. We’re actually going to try to be competitive this year and going into the future. I have some really good young guys coming up. We should be looking up.”

And the Longhorns will look to do that with plenty of athletes as they started practice with 20 and expect a few football players to join the ranks.

However, they’ll have to wait as Lone Grove halted practices until Monday, Nov. 30 due to a spike in COVID-19 numbers across the state.

“We just have an attitude that we’re going to make it work — whatever it takes,” Garrett said. “If we get to play 10 or 20 games this year, we’re just going to do what we can do. We’ll be ready if we get a call and have to play a game that day. We’d go with the guys we have. We’re just trying to stay ready.”

Lone Grove has already dealt with changes as its opener against Byng on Dec. 1 is postponed to a later date. The Longhorns now start the season with a road trip to Wilson at 8 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 8.

The district slate kicks off at home against Sulphur on Tuesday, Jan. 5, but Lone Grove isn’t looking that far ahead.

“We take it one game at a time,” Garrett said. “And if it’s any year for one at a time, it’s this year. The attitude that I’ve been preaching is ‘Be ready and be on standby.’ We could easily have a game get canceled and we pick one up. And it’s not an opponent that we’ve been looking at, so we’re just ready. We’re just going to focus on us and try to get better.”

The Longhorns should be in good shape to do that with a number of athletes returning from last season.

Lone Grove went 3-20 a year ago, but that squad was made up of mostly freshmen and sophomores. Those athletes are now a year older and ready to take strides in the right direction.

“We’re looking to be better,” Garrett said. “We were just so young last year. We were close in a few games and some games we were a little overmatched. The talent level kind of overwhelmed us sometimes, but we were always pretty competitive and played hard. Guys were having to learn a lot, just kind of thrown into the fire — especially those freshmen.”