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Bearcats looking to take the next step

Jason Della Rosa
Herald Democrat
Sherman's Jalarien Wilson and the Bearcats are scheduled to open the season next week.

There was a slight improvement made by the Bearcats last season, and that is where the frustration starts.

Sherman found itself in so many competitive situations but was unable to do enough to turn that progress into victories.

Nine times the game was in the balance down the stretch, well within reach for the Bearcats to come up with what was necessary in the span of a few possessions to earn a win. Each time there was something — free-throw shooting, turnovers — which held them back and led to a single-digit loss.

Now with an experienced core looking to find a way to finish off those situations, Sherman opens the season next week with an eye on a winning record and competing for a postseason berth.

“The hunger to win is different. They can compete with anyone in the district. That’s where the frustration lies,” Sherman head coach Jordan Marks said. “We’re instilling in them everyday, in order to win they’ve got to make the little plays.”

The Bearcats were supposed to start this week with games against North Mesquite, McKinney Boyd and Paris but due to COVID-19 concerns within the athletic department, their debut has been pushed back to at least next week.

“They’re a close-knit group. They want to win,” Marks said. “Can we put it all together? Not having the spring and off-season with so many guys coming back, we’re playing catch-up.”

Sherman ended up missing out on the playoffs for a second straight season after finishing with a 10-23 overall record and 2-8 mark in District 10-5A play where the Bearcats swept rival Denison but were beaten its other contests and finished three games back of a postseason berth.

Sherman lost a pair of all-district selections to graduation in Xzavier Roberson, who was named to the first-team, and Mason Gabriel, who was on the second team, as well as reserves Gage Smith, Dadrien Calhoun-Moore and Tre Boyd.

Junior point guard Kasai Burton shared the district’s Newcomer of the Year Award and averaged 14.7 points, 3.5 rebounds, three assists and 2.2 steals in his first season after transferring from Tishomingo (Okla.).

“The main thing Kasai came in and showed was his IQ from the beginning,” Marks said. “I’ve been coaching him to be able to coach. He’ll see things and I’ll tell him to go and tell the rest of the guys. That’s going to be big with his development.

Senior forward Jalarien Wilson was an honorable mention all-district pick last season.

“He’s a guy who can go and get 12 points and 12 rebounds. It’s getting him to do that on a consistent basis,” Marks said. “That’s going to be a big thing.

“Everyone’s going to start focusing on Kasai and Jalarien. We need to find guys to take advantage of that third defender on them and can score.”

Classmate Dionte Agnew is back as well.

There are several other seniors returning and set to contribute, although the Bearcats must wait until football season ends for the arrival of Braiden Speed, Jacoby Hunt, Mathias Coleman and Benji Omayebu. A couple of other football players, Andrew Nehrbass and Cameron Reed, could end up on the roster after transferring to Sherman for their senior seasons from Olathe South (Kan.) and Bonham, respectively.

Junior Elijah Chapman is another one currently contributing on the gridiron as well. Another junior, Ashton Alexander, is entering his third year with the varsity.

Sophomore Vontrelle Sanders was called up during his freshman season and added a long-range dimension to the offense.

“Vontrelle, I think he’s going to surprise some people,” Marks said. “By the time we get to district he’s going to be on a lot of people’s radar.”

Rounding out the roster are senior Jaron Harris and juniors Zacoreion Harris and Jacob Lester, who transferred from Frisco Independence.

Because teams cannot compete in tournaments as part of the UIL’s COVID-19 changes for this season, the Bearcats will play non-district contests against Denton, Sulphur Springs, Mansfield Legacy, Flower Mound, Melissa, Van Alstyne, North Forney, Legacy Christian and Decatur before starting 10-5A play on Dec. 22.

Sherman was placed in a district with Denison, Wylie East, McKinney North, Lovejoy, Princeton, The Colony and Prosper Rock Hill for the next two seasons.

Non-district

What: Sherman at Denton

When: 6:15 p.m. Nov. 20