The Sherman football team’s bad fortune this fall may mean better luck for Bearcat coach Greg Nix’s basketball squad this winter.

The Sherman football team’s bad fortune this fall may mean better luck for Bearcat coach Greg Nix’s basketball squad this winter.

For the first time since 2007, the Bearcats will have their full complement of hoopsters when the ball goes up Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. at Sanger. The opener was originally scheduled for tonight, but has been pushed back a day.

Nix, in his second year at Sherman, has had the rare luxury of a full week to work with his team since football season ended.

"It’s been nice not having to rush and cram," Nix said. "We’ve been able to put in a couple of things every day. Now we get one extra day to prepare."

Which is good for the Bearcats, because the roster is almost entirely different from last season.

The Bearcats have a bunch of holes to fill with the graduation of Armon Jones, T.J. Ball, J.T. Luper and Alex Polk, who was lost to injury early last season, as well as key reserves Stetson Sullivan, Tray Bowen and Jerry Sims.

Also, Harold Johnson, a junior who split time between varsity and JV, transferred to Texoma Christian, leaving a vacancy at the point guard position; and Nix said senior Walter Davis, a reserve last season, decided not to play this year, for a total turnover of nine players.

But Nix does have a pair of returning first-team all-District 13-4A performers to build his squad around in senior Tre’ Mask and junior J’Lynn Thompson.

Mask, a two-time first-teamer, is an all-around impact player for the Bearcats, averaging 10.5 points, 6.8 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 2.3 steals per game in 2012-13.

"Through the summer, it looks like Tre’ will be able to shoot the ball," Nix said. "We’re going to be a better 3-point shooting team. Tre’s a smart player, he’s unselfish, and he has the bulk and can hold his own inside."

Last year, Thompson provided a scoring punch that the Bearcats sorely needed during district play. Thompson averaged 11.9 points, 4.8 rebounds and 2.3 steals per game, and Nix hopes Thompson has gained the consistency which he was lacking as a sophomore.

"J’Lynn’s become a better passer," Nix said. "He’s more confident and now knows what to expect playing in a 4A district."

The Bearcats are coming off a 19-19 season in which they won their final three District 13-4A games, including a play-in game against Royse City, to make the playoffs as the fourth seed, and then stunned District 14-4A champion Marshall in the bi-district round.

"We got better through the year," Nix said. "We had some rough spots in district, but overall we were competitive and our guys were serious about varsity athletics in every sport."

Nix calls Mask and Thompson two of the top 10 players in District 13-4A. His main task is determining the three who will start alongside them.

Treyson Jones, a 5-foot-11 junior, will start at the point. Nix said Jones’ "basketball IQ is off the charts and he never makes mistakes with the ball."

Size will be the biggest problem for the Bearcats. Chris Collum, a 6-3 junior, is the tallest player Sherman has, and Nix said he’s more of a wing-type athlete. Ty Williams, who is a big-bodied 5-11, will replace Armon Jones in the middle.

"We weren’t very big last year," Nix said. "Our biggest players were Armon, Stetson and T.J., and we’ve got nobody else that big. Other than Luper, we’re probably quicker than last year, but we’re not big at all."

Williams and Treyson Jones will be definite starters, Nix said, with either Collum or somebody quicker as the fifth starter depending on how the opponent matches up.

Kiaron McKinney, a 5-9 senior, is the quickest player on the team and will fill the defensive role played by Luper a year ago.

Banner Sullivan, a sophomore and the younger brother of Stetson, can play several positions for the Bearcats, including point guard, and will play a key role off the bench.

The Bearcats will play their first home game a week from Tuesday against Melissa, and will host Paris North Lamar on Saturday, Nov. 30 at 3:15 p.m. After that, they won’t play at Bearcat Gymnasium again until the Sherman Holiday Invitational Dec. 26-28.

Sherman will return to Sanger Dec. 5-7 for a tournament and will also play in the Princeton tournament Dec. 12-14, with a non-district game at Gainesville Dec. 10 mixed in.

The Bearcats’ District 13-4A opener is Dec. 17 at Wylie East.