Har-Ber Starts Over
By Kurt Voigt
November 2, 2009
BURNETT TURNS TO HALF-COURT GAME IN RESHAPING WILDCATS
SPRINGDALE Eric Burnett knew Springdale Har-Ber would be “pretty much starting from scratch” when it began practice in September.
That’s why, rather than trying to teach o◊ense and define who will carry the scoring load this season, the Wildcats basketball coach went to work on the basics. Specifi cally, defense.
“Those first two weeks, we worked on nothing but defense,” the fifth-year Har-Ber coach said. “No o◊ense.
“I’m still teaching them right now after a month and a half. We’ve got a ways to go.”
Coming off a state runner-up finish two years ago, Har-Ber surprised most everyone in the 7A-West Conference last season - finishing 9-5 in conference play, good for third place behind eventual state finalists Fayetteville and Rogers High. Several of the leaders from that team, which defeated Russellville in the state tournament before losing in the state quarterfi - nals to Cabot, have graduated.
“The kids came together and just had heart,” Burnett said.
Last year’s team relied on the 3-point shot and the fast break for easy offense, something Burnett said is likely to change this year as the Wildcats work more in the halfcourt on both o◊ense and defense.
“We have to have really good chemistry because we don’t have a superstar,” Burnett said. “We have to work really, really well together.”
Senior Matt Toomer (6-foot-5) saw plenty of action last season for Har-Ber and has impressed Burnett at practice so far.
“He has really turned it on and is playing well right now,” Burnett said. “We’re going to need him to score more.”
Toomer is expected to have helpinside from senior Chris Bales (6-5), and senior Tay-Tay Lane (6-3) is expected to provide more insidehelp once football season ends.
Also, Burnett expects some of the scoring responsibilities to be fi lled by senior Michael Trexler (6-1) and junior Jason Holmstrom (6-2). Trexler played some early last season for the Wildcats and can shoot the ball well, while Holmstrom is more of a “slasher,” Burnett said, and also rebounds well for his size.
Finding a point guard has been one of Burnett’s top priorities in practice so far, and he has several options to choose from. Burnett said junior Matt Bradley (6-0) has shown good leadership, while junior Nac Williams (5-4) will also see time.
Another option could be sophomore Chad Ramey, who played at Southwest Junior High last season. However, Ramey (5-10) has had his appendix removed and underwent knee surgery in recent weeks and could miss a month, Burnett said.
Har-Ber opens with a benefit game Nov. 10 against Stilwell, Okla., followed by game at Elkins. Then things get interesting with a trip to perennial power Little Rock Parkview on Nov. 17.
“It’s going to let us know what we have to work on,” Burnett said. “I like playing the best teams out there.”
Sports, Pages 10 on 11/02/2009