Raceland has a chance to record three consecutive winning seasons for the first time since 2000-03.
Bob Trimble wasn’t even guiding the girls yet.
Now 15 years into his head coaching tenure — seven were spent leading the Lady Rams — Trimble has become adept at detecting preseason promise. He sees just that this year.
“Your locker room is going to determine your team’s success,” Trimble said. “With these three guys, that’s a big start for us as a team this year.”
Kirk Pence, Austin Cumpton and Andrew Floyd comprise the trio to which Trimble referred.
“These guys, they’re good basketball players, but they’re great kids as well,” said the coach. “They’re leaders. I can always count on them.”
All three are keenly aware of what is required to make late-season pushes. The Rams fell two points shy in a double-overtime thriller in the opening round of the 16th Region Tournament a year ago. In 2017-18, Raceland survived an OT affair before coming up just short in an extra period against Ashland in the region semifinals.
“The last two years, the program is heading in the right direction,” Trimble reflected on 17-12 and 16-14 years. “We’re in a place now where we expect to be competitive every year. … We feel like we’ve turned the corner, but at the same time, we can’t get lax. These guys, I’ve told them they need to push the charge to work even harder than we did in the past if we want to continue to move forward and do some things we haven’t done before.”
Raceland featured four double-figure scorers a season ago. Pence (14.1 points per game) led the way. He and Floyd (10.6 ppg) are back, but Kyle Adkins (13.6 ppg) and Greg Mershon (10.8) graduated.
Cumpton (6.8 ppg) said he aims to fill some of the defensive rebounding void created by Mershon’s departure. Mershon pulled down a team-high 6.2 boards a contest. Cumpton averaged 4.9.
“With Greg being gone, he was a great defensive player for us,” Cumpton said. “That’s the category I’m really wanting to step up in this year; be a really good defender.”
Trimble said Cumpton, a junior, has packed on significant muscle mass.
“Probably 15 pounds of muscle,” said the coach. “He’s shown the most gain.”
Floyd, the son of assistant coach Scott Floyd, buried a team-best 64 3s (in 157 tries; 40.8%) as a freshman. He made 22 triples in eighth grade.
“Whatever Andrew does, he’s just full boar,” Trimble said. “He’s gonna work his tail off, whatever it is. … (Opponents are) not going to leave Andrew this year. He shoots the ball so well from the perimeter. He’s come a long way in attacking the basketball, worked on finishing, his floater. I’d really like to see him get in there and attack and get to the free-throw line a lot more as well. He’s a good free-throw shooter.”
While just 5-foot-11, Floyd said he continues to grow, figuratively, partially thanks to his father’s tutelage.
“I get more from my dad than I’ve ever gotten from anyone else on the court and off the court,” Andrew Floyd said. “He just wants me to do everything I can to succeed and to be the best person and best basketball player I can be. He’s just really meticulous about my actions on and off the court. It’s done nothing but help my game.”
Pence has come through in clutch moments often. He does the same on the baseball field.
“I think that confidence (comes from) just knowing my teammates are behind me and they’ve got that trust in me to go out there and make a play if I need to,” Pence said.
Pence suffered a foot injury during the offseason, but he’s back to 100%, he said.
Trimble pointed to size as a strength. Gavin Reed, a 6-4 post player, and Kyle Broughton, a 6-2 sophomore guard, both figure to be factors, said the coach.
Southpaw Justin Stephens, Chase Thornsberry and a pair of football players — Gunnur Lewis and Landyn Newman — have diminished Trimble’s initial level of concern about depth.
Raceland tips off 2019-20 at Coal Grove on Tuesday, Dec. 3.