The Pirates' boys basketball team aims to be the 'grittiest' squad on the court.
Every year, Matanzas’ boys basketball team sets a goal of making it to the district championship. The Pirates came up one game short of that goal last season, losing to Clay 61-45 on Feb. 13. Despite graduating some of their top players, the Pirates, who finished 12-13 in 2018-19, have a renewed focus and identity.
“We’ve got to compete,” the Pirates’ fourth-year head coach, Donald Lockhart, said. “That’s our biggest thing. We’ve got a great nucleus of guys. Those guys are competitors. If we can learn to compete, I think it can take us a long way this year.”
Last season, the Pirates graduated three-year varsity player Branden Gilyard, Darrion Sessions, Keshawn Kemp, Maleik Gibson-Nelson, Tre’Von Harris and Marquice Hill.
The Pirates have a mix of youth and experience this season, led by seniors Joel Whittick and David Evans.
“I’m just doing what the seniors before me did,” Evans said. “They pushed me every day in practice. They made sure I did my best. That’s what I expect out of the younger guys now.”
"We have to do the little things and listen to each other. We have to let coach lead us because he's going to get us there in the end."
JOEL WHITTICK, Matanzas basketball player
The Pirates don’t have the biggest of players, but they do have a lot of athleticism, particularly in Whittick.
They plan to be a fast-paced team that aims to score in transition.
But they will continue to hang their hat on defense.
“We want to stop you from scoring, but if we need to score in bunches, we’ll do that,” Lockhart said. “There’s a little more excitement than in previous years.”