Even though Maumelle returns just one player who played minutes last year, Coach Michael Shook is optimistic about what the Hornets can accomplish this year.

Senior guard Terrell Curtis (6-0, 165) is the only player coming back from last year that played any minutes. The Hornets will be young with several sophomores expected to contribute but how his squad interacts with each other has Shook enthusiastic about his team.

“I’m really excited to see how quickly the young, inexperienced players develop,” Shook said. “This team is such hard-working and coachable and have really good chemistry.”

Though the Hornets will be significantly smaller compared to last year, they still are going to play a fast pace. Unlike the past two years, they won’t have one go-to player who can score when needed. Instead, Shook has seven players who can score 18-20 points on any given night. He knows the Hornets will have their ups and downs and growing pains and doesn’t expect the number on wins to be as great as the past couple of seasons, but is excited to see what happens come March.

“We are really fast and play quicker than last season,” Shook said. “They do a great job of pushing the tempo. They are a close group who get along with good chemistry.”

Expected to contribute quickly is sophomore guard Courtney Lawrence (5-11, 145). In the Hornets’ first and only game thus far against Morrilton on Nov. 14, he led Maumelle with 21 points. Shook knew Lawrence had it in him but didn’t believe it could happen so quickly. Developing Lawrence’s consistency is key. Also playing and contributing right away are sophomore guards Tre Flowers (6-0, 155) and Jathen Mills (6-0, 155). Flowers tallied nine points against Morrilton with Mills adding four. Sophomores Marchello Porter (6-3, 180) and Javis Dickerson (6-3, 175) are counted on to help with rebounding.

Junior guard Jabari Barnes (5-9, 140) will man the point guard position. He didn’t play a lot of minutes last year but can score and is extremely quick. After missing the season last year because of a knee injury, junior Brahm Harris (6-4, 185) is projected to help in all facets of the game. Curtis is taking on the reins of becoming a leader.

“Terrell (Curtis) is trying to be a leader and getting better,” Shook said. “He can be an impact guy. Brahm is our best all-around player and can get hot in really big games.”

Shook took seven guys from the football team who tried out after the season. He says adding them has made the team tougher mentally and physically. Right now, they are all defensive role players and will have limited playing time until they learn the offense.

Presently, the coaching staff’s task is figure out what rotations work best. He has guys who can score and others who can play defense and some who can do both. The key is figure out what combinations work best together.

“No matter how we work it out, our chemistry is good,” Shook said. “They are so coachable, and I’m pleased with their ability to run an offense and multiple defenses.”

Shook said the Hornets will force turnovers. The key is to get stops against teams with good guards when forcing turnovers is not so easy.

Maumelle is 1-0 after a 75-70 triumph over Morrilton. Like last year, they are members of the 5A-West but will play the conference season in the blended 5A/6A-Central. To determine seedings for the 5A district tournament, the Hornets play a round robin with Morrilton, Vilonia and Greenbrier. They host Greenbrier on Friday and travel to Vilonia next Friday.