By Dave Wagner
FLOYD — Jeff Gillespie knows his Floyd boys basketball team may need a little time to adjust after most of his players were participating in the state six-man football championship four days ago against Melrose.
With only two practices to get ready for Monday’s opener at Tatum, Gillespie warned not to expect the Broncos to be in midseason roundball form just yet.
“I hope they (Tatum) haven’t painted their rims recently,” he quipped. “We’re going to throw up some bricks, no doubt about it.”
The Broncos (20-9, 9-1 District 3-1A in 2003-04) may start a little slowly, but there’s no doubt they’ll live or die with their run-and-gun, hoist-the-threes style of play.
“We’ve got about 10 players that’ll play,” said Gillespie, beginning his third season at the school. “We’re going to struggle early just trying to get into the basketball mode.
“Our shooting is probably going to be off, but that’s not going to keep us from putting them up.”
The Broncos lost three players to graduation, including scoring and rebounding mainstay Chance Chenault. At 6-foot-1, Chenault also took a good chunk of the team’s size with him.
“He played everywhere for us,” Gillespie said of Chenault. “He’s going to be missed as far as the ballhandling part is concerned.”
Jerrod Long, a 5-9 junior guard, matched Chenault by averaging around 15 points last season. Others from whom Gillespie is seeking solid perimeter play are 5-6 senior guard Manny Carrillo, 5-9 sophomore guard-forward Jason Martinez and 5-7 junior guard Kyle Kropf.
Brothers Bryan and Erickson Johnson, both 5-10 senior guards, will contribute in the backcourt as well, Gillespie said.
“I think we’ll play well,” said Carrillo, one of the team’s leaders on the court. “I think we can win our district again. It’ll take a while to get up to basketball speed; we’ll be a little rusty, but going into the first game that’s how it always is.”
With Floyd often playing four perimeter players, the post position will be rotated between three 6-footers — seniors Jonathan Mitchell and Eric Padilla, and junior Brad Lee.
The Broncos have an ambitious pre-district schedule, with tournaments at Clayton and Whitharral, Texas. They expect to be challenged at both venues.
“I think by playing those teams, when we come back into our district we’ll be better prepared,” said Carrillo, a 3-point threat whose older brother, Josh, holds the school’s career 3-point field goal percentage record. “We’ll see some different teams. It’ll be fun.”
He said he’s not that concerned about the team’s relative lack of size.
“We’re used to being small,” Carrillo said. “No matter how tall you are, if you play good defense you can win games.
“We’ve got a bunch of 3-point shooters. That’s most of our offense.”
While both Gillespie and Carrillo said Fort Sumner poses a threat in the district, Melrose could be the team they have to beat out in the end.
“It should be (Melrose),” Gillespie said. “But Fort Sumner always has a lot of athletes. They’re pretty scary.”
(Boys and girls)
22 — at Tatum, 6/7:30 p.m.; 30 — at San Jon, 7/8:30 p.m.
2-4 — at Clayton tournament, TBA; 7 — House, 5/6:30 p.m.; 9-11 — at Whitharral (Texas) tournament, TBA; 17 — Logan, 6/7:30 p.m.
4-8 — EPAC tournament at Texico and Portales, TBA; 11 — Gateway Christian, 5:30/7 p.m.; 13 — at Lake Arthur, 5/6:30 p.m.; 14 — at Mountainair, 5:30/7 p.m.; 18 — at Fort Sumner, 5:30/7 p.m.-x; 21 — Elida, 7/8:30 p.m.-x; 25 — Melrose, 5:30/7 p.m.; 28 — at Tucumcari, 5:30/7 p.m.
1 — at Dora, 7/8:30 p.m.-x; 4 — Fort Sumner, 5:30/7 p.m.-x; 11 — at Melrose, 5:30/7 p.m.-x; 15 — Grady, 5/6:30 p.m.; 18 — Dora, 5:30/7 p.m.
x-District 3-1A games.