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Boys high school basketball in Kentucky is winding down with the Sweet Sixteen slated for next week at Rupp Arena. Those who watched the Spencer County Bears suffer through a dismal 6-22 record this year might not give much thought to titles and trophies, but while the young squad has plenty of room for improvement, they’ve got plenty of time to reach it.
“I definitely knew that this would be a tough year for us coming in with such a young team,” said head coach Jacob Barmore.
The Bears played much of the season with a line-up that included sophomores, freshmen and a starting eighth-grade point guard. While the wins were sparse and there were moments that this young team was just overmatched, there were other games where they showed promise.
Sophomores Logan Dunbar and Trey Wyatt proved to be serious scoring threats all season and having them back for two years should give the team confidence.
“I can’t say enough about how hard they play every night to try to give us a chance to win,” said Barmore of the duo.
Of course, the coach realizes there’s a need for more than just two reliable scorers. He thinks they’re already on the team.
“We definitely need other guys to help carry that load and I think two pieces to that will be Brian Thacker and Brandon Miller.”
Thacker, a sophomore, was the player Barmore considers the most improved over the season. “As he gets physically stronger, we will look for him to contribute even more.”
Miller had an overwhelming task of running the point on a varsity program as an eighth grader. He experienced some growing pains, but Barmore looks for bigger things out of Miller as well.
“We will need Brandon to become physically stronger and become more aggressive on offense for us to be successful at a high level,” said Barmore.
While individually, some players may have picked up confidence, the coach said team confidence needs improving.
“That will be the most crucial part to us having success next season,” he said. “It’s not easy and it doesn’t happen overnight, but if the guys put in the time in the weight room and on the court, I truly believe that will happen.”
That’s why the work in the offseason is so important.
“Most coaches believe that you make your improvements in the summer and I’m of the same belief,” said Barmore. “You can fine tune some things during the year, but it’s how hard you work when you don’t necessarily have to that defines you as a player.”
He said he’d like the team to play about 25 games this summer, along with attending a team camp and dedicating themselves to the weight room.
From a team standpoint, Barmore said the one area in real need of improvement is on defense, where the Bears gave up about 71 points a game. When you only have two consistent scorers, it’s hard to keep pace with opponents when you give up that many baskets.
He sees that as an area he can improve on as a coach.
“That’s an area that I think I could have done a few things different, and all I can do is take that and learn from it.”
But a young coach and young players have been through a learning year, and while youth may have been a detriment over the past season, it gives hope for the future. The bulk of this team will have two more seasons together.
“I am definitely excited to watch this team grow in every aspect of the game. If they work hard and stay together, there could be some very exciting times ahead.
Barmore said he’s appreciative of the patience of the administration and community as the Bears endured a long season, but said they should be proud of the team for sticking through it. The lessons learned could prove beneficial.
“I look forward to a much better year next season,” said Barmore.