The Compass Academy Cougars have already experienced of modicum of success in their first year of UIL competition, qualifying for the playoffs in volleyball and football and sending the boys cross country team to the regional championships.
The boys basketball team hopes to continue the positive vibes, but has a lot of ground to make up.
The Cougars didn’t open their season until Saturday because of COVID-19 issues and jumped straight into District 5-3A play Tuesday at Reagan County.
“It’s been challenging at times due to COVID,” Compass coach Aaron Hardwick said. “Of course, it’s our first year for varsity, first year for UIL, but we have had basketball the last two years.
“As far as the COVID issues, it’s been tough. As far as the basketball program, we actually started that a couple of years ago.”
Despite being shut down for two months, Hardwick said, the Cougars are ready to put a team on the floor.
“We’re prepared,” he said. “We had a game on Saturday. We played Midessa and did some good things. We came up on the losing end (56-44), but that gave us a chance to see what we need to work on moving forward.
“We haven’t done as much as we would like, but at this point in time you’ve got to deal with it the best you can. That’s coming through practice, trying to do the best we can in our practices to get prepared for games.”
After the loss to Midessa, Compass dropped Tuesday’s district opener 52-28.
Hardwick said the team possesses a good mix of size and athleticism, and the experience gained the previous two seasons will be invaluable.
“We have a little bit of everything this year, which is a blessing,” he said. “Some years you don’t have height, some years you don’t have as much speed. We have a blend of all that this year. Now it’s just a matter of putting it all together.”
And, Hardwick added, the Cougars are advanced enough to add more elements to the game plans.
“A lot of the stuff we were doing the last two years, we’re actually adding on to,” he said. “We have the basics, but we also have some things we like to do, as well.
“You always have to be prepared for what another team is going to throw at you. We already have multiple offenses and multiple defenses. It’s just a matter of fine tuning them at this point.”
The Cougars will rely on the trio of juniors Dylan Sosa, Donovan Ramirez and Mateo Dutchover.
“Our juniors that we have are battle tested,” Hardwick said. “We played nothing but a varsity schedule last year except for one tournament. The real thing right now is getting these guys where we can be in somewhat decent shape where we can execute the things we want when we play on game days.
“Dylan Sosa is an excellent 3-point shooter. He’s going to probably be our leading scorer. He had 14 the other night. Donovan Ramirez is more of a slashing-type guard, but we’ll play him at the 4 position some. We’re definitely going to be depending on Mateo Dutchover. His best skill is on the defensive end, but his shooting has improved. He runs the team really well.”
With 12 players on the varsity roster, depth is not a concern for Hardwick.
“We have two freshmen (guard Tristan Creek and forward Josiah Wray) that got moved up from JV,” he said. “That’s going to help because those guys bring an element of athleticism and height.”
The main thing, Hardwick said, is for the Cougars to take advantage of the opportunity before them.
“We’re just excited to play,” he said. “We were shut down for quite some time as far as athletics and all UIL activities. We’re just happy to be able to play the game of basketball.”