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HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL: Permian enters new season with plenty of experience - Odessa American: Oavarsity

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HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL: Permian enters new season with plenty of experience

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Posted: Friday, November 15, 2019 7:00 pm

The Permian boys basketball team has been on quite the run over the last two seasons.

The Panthers followed up the record-breaking season of 2017-2018 with another strong overall record (28-7), an outright District 2-6A title and another run to the Region I-6A Tournament in 2018-19.

With the start of another season, head coach Tim Thomas has the same message that he delivers to his team before the start of every season.

“Every year is a different year with a different team,” Thomas said. “You have to work hard and you have to get lucky, but luck is when preparation meets opportunity.

“So let’s really prepare, practice, work hard and have a good attitude so when that opportunity comes, we’ll be ready.”

One thing that can help Permian make another run this season is experience as the Panthers have six seniors on the varsity roster entering the season.

One of the more dynamic playmakers returning is 6-foot-6 senior forward Nakavieon White. White sees himself taking on more of a leadership role this season.

“I just have to pick it up more,” White said. “I can’t have a bad day and I always have to come in ready to work. If the younger guys see I’m ready, then they can be ready too.”

Senior forward Jase Taylor also is back and will see a more prominent role after being used as a sixth man off the bench last season for the Panthers. He says he wants to lead by example and that starts by following what Thomas preaches on the defensive end.

“It just starts with the effort and hustle that we have to show in practice,” Taylor said. “We have to give 100 percent every day and buy into what the coaches are telling us.”

Permian also returns a number of younger playmakers including junior guard Shy Stephens-Deary and sophomore guard Cedric Baty. Senior forward J.J. Vizcaino is back after missing the entire postseason due to a shoulder injury and guard Keyonta Johnson will add to an experienced backcourt. Put it all together and the Panthers enter the season with a seasoned roster.

“Those younger guys were able to play a lot of significant minutes last year,” Thomas said. “It’s a team that has a lot of experience returning and we have a lot of high expectations for those guys.”

As for the biggest strengths, Thomas says that he sees a team with quickness and may look to open things up offensively a bit more because of that. He also believes that the biggest key will come down to effort and attitude.

“Our strengths have always been about hustle, teamwork and defense,” he said. “We’ve always thought of hustle as a talent and so one thing and that’s what we’ve always harped on. Sometimes, you might not shoot the ball well but if you hustle and play defense, you give yourself a chance to compete.”

The Panthers will get a number of strong tests during the nondistrict schedule. The team opened the season Friday in the Alamo City Hoops Tournament in San Antonio. Permian was scheduled to play four games over two days.

The field includes a 34-win team in Midland Christian along with 6A regional finalist Richmond George Ranch and Metroplex teams including Burleson Centennial and Cedar Hill among others.

“This will be the earliest we’ve played in a tournament since we’ve been here and it’s going to be something different for us.” Thomas said. “It’s going to give us a great gauge of where we are and play some quality programs with different styles. It will be a challenge but I’m looking forward to it.”

Other nondistrict matchups include a pair of El Paso area regional quarterfinalists in Clint (4A) and El Paso Americas (6A), who Permian knocked out in the playoffs last season. The Panthers will also participate in the Caprock Tournament in Lubbock after Christmas before opening District 2-6A play Jan. 17, 2020 against Midland Lee.

Thomas talks about his team being physically strong, but believes that the early schedule will provide a good mental test as well.

“Part of my theme this year is about MT, mental toughness,” he said. “We’ve been focused on using that as a tool to try and close the gap between us and teams that may be more athletic than we are. You just have to put the work in and make your own luck because of your preparation.”

>> Follow Tony Venegas on Twitter at @OA_TVenegas

Odessa, TX

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