On the surface, the upcoming boys basketball season looks like a rebuilding project for Lely coach Fritz Jacques.
The Trojans lost nine seniors from last year’s district championship squad, including leading scorers Rugde Hyppolite and Oliver Dumel. Those two players accounted for nearly half of Lely’s point total last year, leaving some big shoes to fill for the three returning starters and a slew of newcomers this season.
“We always set our goals high, if you don’t set those goals, what are you trying to achieve?” Jacques said. “Last year, we were district champs and it took a lot to get us to that point. But our goal is to repeat and go from there. We know it won’t be easy, but the boys have embraced that goal and are ready to work toward it.”
The Trojans will need the three returning starters – junior center Matt Talko, junior point guard Whitley Theork and sophomore guard McCline St. Tulus to carry the load early on. But Jacques also expects some of the team’s fresh faces to make an impact before the season is over.
Among the new faces expected to contribute in 2017-18 are senior forward Kaleb Gerald, junior forward Quinson Isme, along with sophomore guards Shea Lusco and Jayden Noel. Junior sharpshooter Devyn Fishman will hopefully help replace Dumel, who hit 104 3-pointers last year.
The Trojans also have plenty of big bodies to team up with Talko in the post, including juniors Elijah Wright, Nelson Colas and Dylan Wildfong.
Jacques recently completed his first season as the Trojans’ head football coach, and he has fully embraced his dual coaching role at the school.
“My big goal is making this one family, between the football and the basketball teams,” he said. “We’ve got some young football players out for us this year, and we’d like the programs to be united, even the kids who don’t play both sports.”
Jacques says he’s getting plenty of cooperation from his young team, which could go through some early growing pains.
“They’re doing what I ask of them, preparing for the season,” he said. “These guys are loving the grind, loving the process, and they’re getting better every day.”
The Trojans open the regular season with a home game against Palmetto Ridge on Thursday, Nov. 30. Lely takes part in a preseason classic at First Baptist Academy next weekend.