Flagler Palm Coast reached the district semifinals last year.
In his first season as coach of the Flagler Palm Coast boys basketball team, Gary McDaniel is hoping to lead the Bulldogs back to the state playoffs. Last season, the Bulldogs ended the season in a tough loss to Mainland High School in the district semifinals.
Though the Bulldogs lost one of their best players (Brandon Dean) to graduation, McDaniel knows the road back to the playoffs will take time.
“This season has, and probably will, start slowly,” McDaniel said. “Primarily due to our inexperience and having a new coach.”
The Bulldogs were winless through the preseason, but they won their first regular-season game Tuesday, Nov. 30, against Pine Ridge.
The team will be led by senior transfer student Lawrence Certain. Standing at 6 feet, 6 inches, Certain will play center for the Bulldogs. Willie Gardner, sophomore, will play forward, and is 6 feet, 4 inches. Junior Jimmy Belle runs the guard position along with senior Brendan Berry.
McDaniel said the style of play the Bulldogs will feature is very different than in years past. He said the players will play with high intensity and at a fast pace, with high-pressure defense and a motion offense.
“Players are in learning mode,” he said. “Understanding (the style) will take time to grasp the new offense and defense with little experience.”
McDaniel added, “The players are adapting to different roles and the overall way of playing the game. I will stick to teaching our system and will be patient while dealing with probably growing pains.”
The Bulldogs next game will be 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 3, at home against New Smyrna Beach.
“We fully expect to improve gradually throughout the year in hopes of playing our best at the end of the season,” McDaniel said.