Coach Bailey Harris enters his 21st season at the helm of the Lexington boys basketball program, during which time he has guided the Wildcats to eight region titles and two state titles in four title-game appearances. However, this season's team is unlike any he has had.
"I've got eight seniors coming back, and eleven players who have experience playing on the varsity level," said Bailey. "With that much experience, we're pretty excited about the upcoming season."
The eight seniors are the most of any school in Lexington's region, and should make the Wildcats the favorite to reclaim the Region 5-4A title after posting an 11-3 region record and winning the region last year. The team finished with a 22-6 record and made it as far as the quarterfinals of the state playoffs.
"We've got a bit of an odd mix with eight seniors and seven sophomores on the roster, and I don't think I've ever had anything quite like that," Harris said. "But I think we've got a good mix of veteran players and some good young kids, so I definitely like our team and our makeup."
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Lexington will return four starters, three of which are seniors, and the other being budding sophomore star Shaq Roland. Roland, the team's leading returning scorer, will miss the first several weeks of the season after sustaining a separated shoulder in the final game of the season for the Wildcats' football team.
Although Roland will be be missed, Harris believes his team can grow in Roland's absence and possibly come out stronger in the end.
"Not having Shaq (Roland) will hurt early because he's a heck of a player, but if we can learn to play well and win without him, we should be a better team when he returns," Harris said.
One player who will be counted on to fill in for Roland is streaky sharp-shooter Corey Hendren. The senior wingman proved he has big-game potential when he hit seven 3-pointers and totaled 29 points in a game against Airport last season.
Along with tons of experience, team balance, as in the case of Hendren filling in for Roland, is something Harris cites as one of his team's strengths.
"We've got a lot of guys who can score some points for us on a given night," Harris said. "I don't think there'll be any pressure on one player to do it all for us."