The Wilson Hall varsity boys basketball team is working on building an identity of its own after graduation took team leaders and top scorers from last year's team, which itself lagged at times in productivity enroute to a 12-12 mark.
The Barons, at 1-2 with consecutive losses to The King's Academy and Heathwood Hall after opening with a victory over Williamsburg Academy, will tip off in Summerville today against 5-1 Pinewood Prep.
The Panthers are coming off an 85-41 dismantling of Laurence Manning on Tuesday and own victories over a pair of Charleston-area public school teams, Goose Creek and Hanahan, with their lone loss coming against Stall, 86-73, in the championship game of the State Farm Classic Thanksgiving tournament.
"We lost a good bit of leadership, along with a lot of point production and rebounding and everything from last year," said Wilson Hall head coach Eddie Talley, in his 11th season at the helm. "But we've got some returning players and they've got some experience now, and they've just got to step up into leadership roles this year instead of being support players. It's something that I think is going to be a process and something I think we're going to improve as the season goes on, but it's just going to take a little bit of time."
Talley will be trying to replace the leadership of Drew Talley and Easton Ward, counting on seniors Daulton Dabbs and Grayson Sonntag to step up into their roles. Dabbs missed much of last season with an injury, but returns as point guard, while Sonntag, along with junior Grey Holler, will provide a presence inside for the Barons.
"We've got some guys that can do it. But it's just kind of early in the season, and they've got to get their feet wet in their new roles," Coach Talley said. "The early part of our schedule is pretty tough, so we're thrown into the fire and we're going to have to find a way out. It's going to be a work in progress."
Talley said the problems his team has experienced in the early going this season are fixable.
"We've got to cut down on the turnovers," Talley said. "Our half-court defense has been decent, but (we've had) too many turnovers on offense leading to easy baskets for the other team. We've got to cut those out. We've just got to find our way.
"A lot of these guys are still coming off football, so they're a little rusty right now," Talley said.
Besides Dabbs, Sonntag and Holler, Talley said he's looking for good things from the players that served as Dabbs' replacements during his injury last year, Grant DeVarona and Chandler Scott.
"Both alternated at point guard for us last year when Dalton went down, so they've got experience and this year they've got to play in different positions," Talley said. "So we've got some returning players and some new players we think are going to step in and be major contributors for us.
"Patience is not one of my strengths," Talley said. "But I'm trying to be patient with this group and I feel like we have a chance to get better."
Talley said with the strength of the competition improving, things need to come along pretty quickly for his team to be successful in terms of its record.
"In the conference, I think we can be competitive," Talley said. "I guess Laurence Manning is still the favorite until somebody knocks them off. Florence Christian and Orangeburg Prep should be better this year. So the competition is going to be good, and our non-conference schedule is very tough, so if we don't get better our record isn't going to be very good."
After Pinewood Prep, the Barons return home to face Hammond, and Thomas Sumter next week.
"Our schedule in the early part of the season is tough, but I think that's going to make us better in the long run," Talley said.