PRESCOTT — The Prescott boys basketball team finds themselves with a new head coach in Travis Stedman and down eight seniors from a season ago, but they are still hoping to make a run in the state playoffs.
The Badgers are coming off a 2017-18 season that saw them stay competitive in most of their games but were able to only come up with a combined record of 12-13, finishing fourth overall in their section and losing their playoff play-in game against the Tempe Buffaloes.
Now with new leadership at the helm in coach Stedman, formerly an Embry-Riddle women’s basketball assistant coach, there has been a bit of a transition for both coaches and players. But for Stedman, he credits the job coach Adam Neely did for the program for the relatively smooth transition.
“To be honest, when I took the program over, it was a perfect situation, because it’s not like it was in shambles,” Stedman said. “Coach Neely did a tremendous job, like foundationally this place is in really good shape and he left on awesome terms and, in fact, it was a really smooth transition for me because I didn’t have to change any culture.
“We had good kids, we already had a good administration and we had good relationships, so it made my life easier. It was just all about basketball after that.”
Junior forward Korey Schwartz seems to share the coach’s point of view.
“(The transition has) gone pretty good so far,” Schwartz said. “We’ve changed up a little bit on offense and defense, but he’s done well in getting us to learn fast and adapt to the new changes.”
Looking at the basketball side of things, the Badgers will once again take part in the 4A Grand Canyon section and face tough competition, as they have in previous seasons. The Badgers will have to take on the likes of defending champs Coconino, Flagstaff and Mingus, as well as some tough non-section teams.
The Badgers are looking to improve in a few areas in 2018-19, primarily on the defensive end. Prescott gave up an average of about 57 points per game last season while averaging only 55 points scored in each contest. So, with areas to improve and returning only four players from last year’s team — Matthew Lopez, Aaron Greene, Cameron Parsons and Korey Schwartz — it’s taking some adjusting on both sides.
Although they have a tough road ahead, Stedman sees a team right now that he says is still a work in progress, but he likes his team’s chances long term.
“We have a lot of new kids, a lot of new faces and a lot of inexperience,” Stedman said. “We’re just trying to get to the point where they catch up on my nomenclature and all the new verbiage and that kind of thing. We’ll be able move the ball and we’ll be able to shoot it a little bit, so if I can get us figured out defensively we’ll be OK.”
The Badgers open the season on Tuesday, Nov. 27, at home against Arcadia at 7 p.m.
Chris Whitcomb is a sports reporter for The Daily Courier. Follow him on Twitter at @AZChris32. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 928-445-3333, ext. 2031.