From the gridiron to the hardwood

Sam Byers bursts past George Hill during the second day of tryouts on Nov.16. - Brad Camp/For the Herald
Sam Byers bursts past George Hill during the second day of tryouts on Nov.16.
— image credit: Brad Camp/For the Herald

KINGSTON — Fourteen days ago, Sam Byers stood in the pouring rain at Renton Memorial Stadium, face-to-face with the Lindbergh High School Eagles during the Kingston Buccaneer’s first football playoff game. The football team’s season ended that night, but for Byers, another season is beginning as he replaces his football gear with a basketball jersey.

This was the first week of basketball practice as the Buccaneers look to build upon their success last season. The team finished the 09-10 season with a 13-9 overall record and 10-5 in the Olympic League.

For Byers, the quick transition to basketball is worth the short amount of relaxation he had between sports.

“It’s a pretty easy transition for me, because I love the game,” Byers, a junior, said of basketball.

Byers compared the football field to a battle, a battle which tends to get players uptight even before stepping onto the field.

Though basketball is a fiercely competitive sport, the players try to take a more relaxed approach on the court.

“You have to be calm,” Byers said. “In order to be able to focus, everyone needs to be loosened up in order to do well.”

Several varsity players graduated in the spring, but a fair amount of returning players put the Bucs in a competitive spot.

Among the returning players, senior Zane Ravenholt and George Hill have once again added strength to the team.

Ravenholt, who was selected to play on the All-Kitsap boy’s team last year, expects to take a leadership role on the team. Last season Ravenholt contributed an average of 16.3 points and 7.9 rebounds per game, adding 1.8 steals and 1.3 blocks per contest.

“Last year George (Hill) and I definitely played a key role on the team, along with Sam (Byers) who really stepped up and a bunch of other players,” Ravenholt said.

As a leader, Ravenholt said he will try to support the team, a team that is already looking focused.

With a few days of practice under their belts, Hill, a senior, said the team already looks ready to play.

“We are going to be more focused this season,” Hill said.

Glancing at last season’s record, focus is not something the team looks like it needs to work on. The Bucs started strong, winning its first three games, but struggled during the playoffs—losing to Olympic, Bremerton and North Mason High Schools.

This season, head coach Blake Conley said he has high expectations for the team. Other players such as Richie Sanders, a player who has stuck with the team, will add to the already strengthened lineup, Conley said.

In order to break last season’s record, Conley said the team needs to be more aggressive on defense and take more shots on offense.

“We had success last season because everyone knew their role,” Conley said. “We expect big things out of this team.”

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