LAUREL HILL — Kent Zessin, the longtime boys basketball coach at Laurel Hill School, doesn't shy away from style of plays the Hoboes will employ this year.
Zessin's plan is to make the opposition dread every offensive possession as the Hobo defense applies pressure defense the length of the floor.
"We are not the type of team that is going to walk it down, set it up and play zone defense," he said. "The kids wouldn't play well. The faster the game is and the more defensive pressure the better we are going to play and that's the way we are."
If the first week of the season is and indication of things to come Hobo fans should have plenty to cheer about.
Laurel Hill made short work of Jay and Central with both games using the running clock in the second half as the Hoboes built 35-point leads.
The season is still young, but Zessin doesn't see any real weaknesses with the team.
"We've got a little bit of everything," he said. "We've got a little bit of size. We've got a little bit of speed."
"We are two deep in every position."
Zessin said eight players will make up the bulk of the Hobo playing rotation. Five of the players are capable of playing multiple positions. Some of the Hoboes can play all five positions on the floor.
Standing 6-foot-6 senior Lane Strickland is the only true post player on the team. But thanks to Laurel Hill's fast-paced style of play the Hoboes don't miss a beat when Strickland needs a breather.
Tee Calloway is capable of playing multiple positions and can just as easily score driving the lane as he can popping out to hit a 3-point shot.
Chris Saylor came off the bench against Central and scored 11 points while playing the hardnosed defense Zessin asked of his team.
What was expected to be a strong Hobo team got stronger when senior point guard Josh Hartzog transferred in from Baker.
"I've seen Josh play in the past and he fits in real good with this team," Zessin said. "He distributes the ball well to the open player. He controls the pace for us.
"He's the one that really sets the tempo for everything. He is what you would call a true point guard, senior leader."
Junior Max Smith is another versatile player that can score in transition or with a smooth jump shot. Smith is fearless in taking the ball to the basket and poses as a threat in many ways.
Two freshmen, T.J. White and Bryson Cooper, have made an impact on the team. Cooper has earned a starting position, but Zessin warned that White could take the spot from Cooper or another of his teammates.
Zessin isn't a coach to compare teams, but he does see some similarities in this team with his 2006 club that played for the Class 1A state championship. The 2006 Hoboes were led by senior Brad Reese who now plays professional basketball in Europe.
"I hate to compare teams and it's early right now," he said. "There are some common characteristics in both of those teams. But this year's team is a lot younger than we were in 2006."
Some of the characteristics the teams share are versatility, the ability to apply constant pressure and the willingness of the players to work.
Zessin isn't ready to claim a state championship or a district championship as November turns to December.
"We aren't looking too far ahead," he said. "We are going to enjoy each win for 24 hours and then we are going to get back to work. We are going focus on the next one taking it one game at a time."
Randy Dickson is the Crestview News Bulletin’s sports editor. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org, tweet him @BigRandle, or call 682-6524.