By Ross Johnson

Ely Times Staff Writer

After a disappointing season last year, the White Pine High boys basketball team is looking to improve. Finishing last season with a 3-20 overall record, Coach Charlie Hall has a challenge ahead of him.

“We were pretty young last year,” Hall said. “And we were in a really talented league.”

Five varsity players are returning this season, having earned maturity and confidence through the adversity of last year.

The team started practicing Nov. 16, focusing on several issues that reveal a young team under development: teamwork, communication and confidence.

On the evening of Dec. 1, Hall had his likely starters working on their press defense. Multiple white-shirted defensive players swarmed the ball carrier, either forcing a turnover or allowing the offense to score, then tossed the ball back to restart the drill.

“We need to be reliant on each other,” Hall said. “The guys are talented. But we need to have confidence to have talent in a game situation.”

Despite last season’s losing record, the Bobcats dominated Laughlin twice and secured a solid 14-point home win against Lake Mead Academy. Even in defeat, they kept two games close, losing to Calvary Chapel Christian by six points and to West Wendover by only three.

With few highlights to reflect on, the Bobcats will hold onto every positive development this year. Hall attributes much of last season’s losing to the team’s youth.

“It was a lack of experience, and of game speed experience,” he said.

Hall is most encouraged by the speed of his team this year.

“The kids are fast,” he said. “We’re going to rely on that.”

The Bobcats have also been working to reduce their high turnover rate from last season, which led to extra possessions for their opponent and some lopsided losses.

“We want to keep our opponent’s numbers down,” Hall said, “which they’re capable of doing.”

Hall will look to returning juniors Cody Bennett and Jonathan Gust for leadership on the court. He also has a solid support system in his returning assistant coaches. Dean Hall, his father, played basketball for White Pine and Darin Stewart has more than 20 years of coaching experience.

The Bobcats travel to Hawthorne this week to compete in the Serpent Classic Tournament, opening play Friday against Bishop Manogue. They host Mountain View Christian to open the season Dec. 11 at 7:30 p.m. followed by another home game against Lake Mead Academy Dec. 12.