By Jeff Harrison
The Del City boys basketball team surprised many with a return to the state tournament last season.
But the Eagles won’t fly under the radar again this year.
The veteran squad has nearly its entire starting lineup back is ranked No. 5 in this week’s Class 5A coach’s poll.
“We have a lot of returning players. Our expectations haven’t changed for this season, but now we have a target on our back,” said coach Lenny Hatchett.
The team has a couple of strong and physical seniors back in Isaac Beverly and Anthony Goodlow. Beverly is the team’s top returning scorer and a third team all-conference selection last year. The 6-foot-5 Goodlow gives the Eagles a strong presence in the post.
Both players were standouts on the football team. Goodlow committed to play football at the University of Tulsa and Beverly has fielded several D-I offers.
Nathaniel Goodlow will start at guard after a breakout freshman year. The 6-foot-2 guard is a high energy player who can score and defend on the perimeter. He was the team’s second leading scorer last year and was named Rookie of the Year in the Big 10 Conference.
Del City will have two other football standouts in the backcourt with juniors Kobe Higgins and Jeff Foreman. Higgins will return at point guard after starting as a sophomore. Foreman is a tremendous athlete and great defender. His twin brother Jack will also see varsity minutes following a productive offseason.
Sophomores Demontreal Crutchfield and Kyron Williams will help off the bench. Crutchfield will play point guard while the 6-foot-4 Williams will help on the inside.
Hatchett, who is in his second year with the program, said the players are better understanding their schemes and expectations in practice. Hatchett said they need be more disciplined and consistent.
“As a coach you always wish the transition was faster with a new team, but now I have a year under my belt,” Hatchett said. “I believe these kids really respect the program. They want to compete and want win for Del City.”
The Eagles will have plenty of opportunities against some of the top 5A and 6A schools in the Big 10 Conference. Putnam City North is the preseason favorite after making the state semifinals last year. Midwest City will again be a contender despite losing two of their top players from last year as will Putnam City West. Lawton Eisenhower is ranked No. 4 in the 5A poll.
“It’s a tough conference for us day in and day out. There are no gimmies and we need to compete every possession and play hard as we can,” Hatchett said.
The team will also have their hands full in regular season tournaments. They will compete in the Ardmore Festival after Christmas, the Bartlesville Class and the Carl Albert Invitational.
That tough conference and tournament slate will have the Eagles ready come playoff time.
“I feel like we have a good chance to shock people and win some games we’re not expected to win,” Beverly said. “We just need to buy into what the coaches want us to do and do things right. And we’ll be scary good when we put it all together.”
The Eagles host Choctaw tonight in the season opener. Tipoff is set for 8 p.m.