Boys basketball preview
by Becky Kimbrell-Norris
WAKEFIELD — The Wakefield High School boys basketball team will look to rebuild this year after losing six players, including three starters from last season’s 13-12 squad.
Despite that void, Dexter Cooley, who is in his fourth year as head coach of the Wolverines, thinks his team will improve but says consistency is the key to a successful season.
“We should have a good year, although our number one need is to be more consistent than we were last season,” Cooley said. “Some games we played really well and in other games, we weren’t sure what we were doing.”
Wakefield, which finished fourth in the Cap 8 Conference at 7-6 made it to the 4A state playoffs last season but was not consistent against their first round opponent. They shot poorly and turned the ball over 22 times and lost 64-49 to Durham Hillside.
“It’s definitely going to be a rebuilding year for us,” Cooley said.
However, the goals for Cooley’s team remain the same.
The Wolverines want to have a winning season and they want to get better every time they take the court. In addition, they have hopes of being in contention at winning the conference championship and lastly, they aim to be a playoff team.
“We have a lot of work to do but I like the work ethic of this team,” Cooley said. “They work hard and it’s really exciting to coach them and they want to be coached.”
Although Wakefield does not have much height, the team does have a lot of speed.
“We are quicker than last year and are pretty athletic but not as big,” Cooley said.
The Wolverines welcome to their 2013-14 roster three transfers. Senior guards Cameron Sykes, joins the team after playing at Millbrook High and D J Thomas comes from Raleigh’s Upper Room Christian Academy. Jesse Wright is another new player, who moved to Raleigh from Ohio.
“We expect big things from Cameron,” Cooley said. “And Jesse is the best athlete on the team and he’s getting better every day as he picks up what we’re doing here.”
Senior Jacori Earle, who plays guard, returns from last season after averaging around seven points a game.
“He has improved greatly and if he continues to improve, he’ll have a good year,” Cooley said.
Up from Wakefield’s junior varsity team are base players Aaron Burress and Phil Protz. Both sophomores stand 6-4 and Cooley expects them to contribute.
Seniors Josh Lowery and Jake Butler, two Wakefield football players, will be back too.
“They are our two most experienced players,” Cooley said.
Wakefield recently played a couple of scrimmages and Cooley said he was pleased with his team’s performance.
“We played pretty well and we’re getting there,” Cooley said. “I’m happy where we’re at and defensively, we’re ahead of where we were last year at this point.”
“I think we’ll be a good defensive team,” he added. “I was also impressed with the way we rebounded the ball.”
Cooley said this is his favorite time of the year because he is teaching the game, rather than coaching.
“I’m taking these new guys and getting them to play as a team,” he said. “Between October 30 and Christmas, it’s all about teaching and getting those new players adjusted to our way of playing.”
“If we can experience some positive things and put them together, we should be fine after Christmas,” Cooley added.
Offensively, the Wolverines will play an up-tempo game and will go man to man on defense.
“We’ll do other things but basically we will push the ball down court and defend with pressure,” Cooley said.
While the rebuilding Wolverines are not expected to be the league’s top team, that’s okay with Cooley.
“We prefer to fly under the radar and work and work to get better,” he said.
This year, Wakefield will host a Holiday Doubleheader that will become an annual event but held at different participating schools.
The tournament will take place on December 30 and 31 and will include both girls and boys basketball games. Playing this year are teams from Southeast Raleigh, Wake Forest, Holly Springs and Wakefield.
This season former Wake Forest High School basketball coach Mickey Bissette joins Cooley as an assistant coach.
“He brings a tremendous amount of knowledge of the game basketball,” Cooley said. “He’s a great teacher and has a great rapport with the players and he knows how to get the job done.”
Bissette was also an assistant coach to Cooley at Millbrook High School before leaving to start the boy’s program at Green Hope High School.
Wakefield will play in a Jamboree at Northern Nash High School this Saturday and will host Durham Jordan Monday at 7 p.m.