Point guard Lamar Fairley is the sole leftover component from last years 20-7, 10-4 IMC Pendleton boys basketball team that took second in conference and eighth at state.
Under first-year Buckaroo coach David Norton, the biggest loss from 2009-10 for Pendleton to account for will be guard Devon Polhamus, a 13.4 point-per-game and five-rebound senior who shot 53 percent from the field.
We have quite a few young players that got a lot of JV experience because of kids they had in front of them, Norton said. Theres still a lot of talent on our basketball team and were looking forward to getting out there and being exciting to watch.
Of 57 kids who tried out for the varsity squad, Fairley and fellow 6-foot-2 point guard Wyatt Whitten will comprise the Bucks starting backcourt. Fairley averaged a team-high 15.6 points in 2009-10 contests, and Whitten, although only a 23-point player all year, gained invaluable varsity experience and is one of three team captains.
Key in the paint for Pendleton especially versus Hermiston will be 6-foot-8 forward Brian Beard. The first-time varsity player presents formidable defensive lank to combat a Bulldogs team with four athletes taller than 6-foot-5.
Norton hopes Beard will acclimate to varsity speed quickly, igniting fast breaks and taking pressure off a four-guard Pendleton attack.
Were not a pushover at all, Norton said of Pendletons overhauled 2009-10 lineup. We feel like well be able to compete in the (Columbia River Conference) with everybody.
The Dalles Wahtonka (8-6) finished in third place behind Pendleton in Intermountain play last year. Norton is unaware of the caliber of newcomers to the Eagle Indians, and the CRCs last foe, Hood River Valley (1-22, 1-13), placed eighth in the Mt. Hood Conference a year ago.
After the fall break, were pretty excited to get the first conference game over with so we can cruise on through to a good season and see where were at, Fairley said.
Pendletons opening preseason scrimmage will start on Saturday at 8 a.m. at the high school and will feature freshmen, JV and varsity players.