Over the past three years, the Sacred Heart boys basketball team has won three district titles and a state title. This season, coach Steve Goodwin has a group he calls “young, energetic, excited about playing here at Sacred Heart, aware of the tradition, trying to get better every single practice.”
After a minor injury during football season, Charlie Wendt will return early in the season to bolster the low-post. Though the Gremlins do have a seasoned veteran in the senior Wendt, they will still rely more on athletic ability than size.
“We haven’t been real big for years,” Goodwin said. “We’re going to make some youthful mistakes. When you lose three guys that went 107-11, it hurts. That’s what we lost so we’re going to have to have some people pick it up.”
Those three seniors who graduated from last year’s team are guards Chase Lyles and Keyaire Marshall and forward Garrett Strange. In Marshall, the Gremlins had a lock-down defender who they could trust to shut down the other team’s best player. There isn’t a Keyaire Marshall on this year’s roster.
“We have some sixth graders who show promise and our fourth-grade class is real good, but a defender like Keyaire is few and far between,” Goodwin said. “A better team defense and understand that we might give up a few more points, but not too many more. Just kind of help each other out and try to get better every night.”
Wendt and Will Prenger come in as the senior veterans among a group of younger players.
“We have to get them used to this varsity atmosphere,” Wendt said.
Trent Lyles emerged as a scoring threat last season and will be a main focal point of the offense this year. Wendt could also emerge as a major player. Other than that, Goodwin said the floor is open for another player to step up.
“There’s a lot of kids just battling for playing time,” Goodwin said. “I’ve seen some good things out of some freshmen. I will start anybody that deserves to start no matter what their age is. I told them that one of the best leaders we’ve had is a freshman and as a freshman he was 25-3 and he’s about 5-foot tall. That was Lakin Kehde. It doesn’t matter what age you are with me. If you can play, you can play. I don’t care what you look like or who your parents are, I’m going to play you.”
Though a trio with a lot of skill which saw a lot of success has left, those who remain saw the success they had and now have a chance to live the dream of continuing it.
“They watch our kids when they are younger, and they want to be a Gremlin when they grow up,” Goodwin said.