Highland Park will be smaller this season. Fortunately for the Scots, many of their opponents might be smaller, too.
The Scots won’t have much size or experience as they drop to the Class 5A level this season. But they will have some depth among a talented group of guards who will try to play a more up-tempo style.
HP needs to replace four starters from a team that led the Scots to the 6A playoffs last season, including an upset of Irving MacArthur in the opening round. And while they might lack a go-to scorer, at least early in the season, HP head coach David Piehler hopes that’s not a bad thing.
“We’re used to having a bigger guy or a taller guy, but in some ways that helps us be more versatile,” Piehler said. “We want to play fast. We want to take advantage of our quickness and our depth.”
The Scots will look for major contributions from a handful of returnees who saw significant minutes last season, including Will Enzor, Ethan Nussbaum, and Will Reichert. That means more aggressive defense and more balance on the floor.
“We’re definitely a different team,” Nussbaum said. “We don’t have one star player. It will be a multitude of guys.”
By the time the District 15-5A schedule begins on Dec. 20, the Scots will be tested. They face South Oak Cliff and Arlington Bowie in nondistrict play, as well as South Grand Prairie in the Scot Classic tournament. And they will host national power Simeon Academy from Chicago as part of the inaugural National Hoopfest event on Dec. 17.
On the girls side, many HP players and coaches are still stinging from a close loss to Skyline in the bi-district round of the playoffs a year ago.
The good news, however, is that there are so many returnees who were there. The Lady Scots have three players who likely will start for the third consecutive year — which just happens to match to tenure of HP head coach Nicole Fleming, too.
“They know the system,” Fleming said. “With two years under their belts, it’s just cleaning up details and tweaking some things.”
HP will enter the season with depth and experience led by guards Morgan Smith and Emma Hill, and post players Eve Loewe and Mary Margaret Roberts.
Fleming said the Lady Scots will again employ their aggressive approach with a lineup that also hopes to add more perimeter shooting to the mix.
The Lady Scots will drop down to Class 5A this year, which should provide some schedule relief. However, a rigid nondistrict slate remains, with games against Mansfield Legacy, Lincoln, and another visit to the prestigious Sandra Meadows Classic holiday tournament in Duncanville.
“The girls are really hungry for it, after doing so well in 6A and seeing what that’s like,” Fleming said. “They really are set on making it further than they ever have.”