NEW MARKET — The Southmont boys’ basketball team is ready to make a big jump.
Entering his fourth year at the helm, coach Jake Turner returns five varsity lettermen, including the Mounties top four scorers.
“We return five lettermen, which might be the most I’ve ever had in my seven years as a varsity coach,” Turner, who spent time at Attica before coming to Southmont, said. “All of our guys have improved significantly despite the layoff, which shows their love for the game and commitment to improve on their own.”
Austin Bowman is the top returning for the Mounties after averaging 11.1 points per game as a junior last season. He will join juniors Avery Saunders (9.3 points per game as a sophomore) and Logan Oppy (10.2 points per game as a sophomore) as three-year starters.
Sophomore Carson Chadd also returns 9.4 points per game. Senior Cale Hess is expected to fill out the starting lineup for the Mounties. Cam King and Steele Baumgardner will provide depth.
Southmont has long term goals for the season, but Turner says they have to focus on the day at hand.
“We want to compete for championships, but we have to embrace the process,” he said. “We talked about specific goals for the season at the first practice, but we promised to not discuss those again for the remainder of the year because all that matters is each day.”
Southmont practiced just twice, before having to quarantine due to COVID-19 concerns. The Mounties will now open the season this Friday at home against county and Sagamore Conference foe Southmont.
The Mounties were just 7-15 last season and allowed almost 60 points per game. Defense will be a key to making the jump to becoming competitors.
“For us to be legitimate contenders, we have to be better on the defensive end and we have to have better shot selection and decision-making on the offensive end,” Turner said. “If we embrace playing for each on both ends, we should be a tough team to beat.”
Southmont is looking for its first winning season since 2017-18, and Turner is confident they can get there if given the opportunity.
“We realize this is going to be a chaotic year so we just have to focus on the things we can control,” he said. “I just really hope that we can play most — if not all — of our games, because this group is a fun group to coach and they’ve worked so hard. I want them to have the opportunity to show what they can do.”