Like many schools across the state, the Boonville Pirates and Lady Pirates basketball teams got a jump on the 2017-18 season Monday with its first official practice at the Windsor gymnasium.
Although the season is still over three weeks away, Lady Pirates basketball coach Jaryt Hunziker reported 22 girls taking part in the first practice while Pirates first-year coach Jesse Oswald said 40 boys in grades 9-12 took to the court on Monday.
The Boonville boys and girls basketball teams will both open the 2017-18 season on Monday, Nov. 20th against the California Pintos. The Lady Pirates will host California at the Windsor gymnasium starting at 6 p.m. while the boys travel to California for a freshmen, JV and varsity game starting at 5.
With four returning starters and three returning letterwinners for the Lady Pirates, Hunziker said all the girls, including himself, are excited to get back on the court and continue the process they started this summer.
“It always feels great to have everyone together again working hard to represent Boonville High School and the community,” Hunziker said.
Hunziker said for the first day of practice the Lady Pirates did a lot of full-court transition drills that incorporated many skills such as dribbling, passing, shooting and footwork. “At the same time we are getting some skill work completed along with getting the players legs conditioned as well. We also started to implement certain parts of our offensive and defensive systems.”
After running the players through drills and going over basic movements of the offense and defense, Hunziker said he was pleased with the effort for the first practice.
“Our practices are pretty up tempo so I know the girls were working real hard to knock the rust off since many haven’t picked up a ball in a while,” Hunziker said. “I also felt we got our foundation set when it came to the basic movements of our defense and offenses. We can now build on what we worked on today.”
For the rest of the week, Hunziker said he would like to continue to get the girls in condition to run their style of play. He said the girls will be doing drills that incorporate transition/pushing the ball along with continuing  to breakdown their offensive and defensive systems.
“Fundamentals will also be emphasized at all times,” Hunziker said.
While most teams will play in a Jamboree in a couple of weeks, Hunziker said the Jamboree that Boonville has been in the last four years is not continuing on. He said instead of taking part with smaller school Jamborees that contacted Boonville, the Lady Pirates decided to use that evening to work on things they need to improve on in order to continue to get better.
Hunziker said down the road they might join in on another Jamboree if they think it is what they need.
Boonville boys basketball coach Jesse Oswald said he had the team go through a lot of up and down full-court drills to get used to the grind of playing a game.
“I know it’s early but the earlier we can get into game shape, the better,” Oswald said. “We also paid as much attention to small details as possible. Attacking the basket hard, rebounding with two hands, things of that nature that we can’t take for granted to be successful.”
After running the Pirates through drills for two hours on Monday, Oswald said he thought there was a lot of good energy. He said he can definitely tell the guys who have picked up a basketball and worked since last March.
“We have a long ways to go to be successful, but with the energy and work ethic we had, we can get there,” Oswald said. “For the next week or so we are going to establish the identity we want to have. If we want to be able to lockdown and guard, we have to get used to playing defense not so much from a 1 on 1 standpoint, but a 5 on 5 standpoint. We can be a good man to man team but we have a lot to work on so we are concentrating on that most.”
The Pirates will return two starters and four letterwinners from last year’s team.
As for being on the court for the first time, Oswald said the first day of practice should be a national holiday.
“I’ve been excited to get in the gym and start working for a couple of months now,” Oswald said. “I like the kids we have out and if they continue to work hard and buy into what we are doing, then they will be successful.”
Around the area, the Pilot Grove boys had 18 out for the first practice while the Lady Tigers suited up nine. At New Franklin, the Lady Bulldogs had 14 participants while the boys opened practice with 16 taking part. At Prairie Home, head coach Dalton Armontrout welcomed 15 boys and seven girls. Meanwhile, at Bunceton, the boys had 17 and the girls 12.