Yes, the Oley boys' basketball team is starting a new era with new head coach Matt Barrell, who was the junior varsity coach last season for the Lynx. The Lynx are off to a good start, going 2-0 as of Saturday, December 14. They are returning three very talented players,and the trio will make the Lynx tough team to beat.
Point guard Sebastian Williamson (1.6 points per game), guard/forward Ben Kerkaslager (6.5 points), and Center Hunter Renninger (8.4 points) will be the foundation of the team. 'It's also our role players and how well they work off those three guys,' said Barrell. We're a close and unified team as well.
'Hunter is our center and can play with his back to the basket as well as play on the perimeter,' said Barrell.
'Ben is a guard/forward who is a very good shooter, but is also strong and physical and can play inside.
'Sebastian Williamson is a sophomore point gaurd who saw a little bit of varsity time last year. This year will be entrusted with running our offense. He has a great understanding of the game.'
Coach Barrell believes that they (the team) are starting to buy into his system as a first year coach.
'We have changed some things from last year, and they've really listened and have done everything we've asked,' said Barrell. 'We have a long way to go though with what I fully want to implement.'
He's pleased with how things are going so far and feels that the team is getting better each day. He notes that they have a young team and the coaches have thrown a lot at them.
'There is a lot of time to grow throughout the season and hopefully we do that each practice,' said Barrell.
'There are always curve balls. 'Practice has been great so far. I guess the big thing was not having everyone in the gym prior to the season with the late great run the boys' soccer team had.'
After an 8-2 league record and 14-7 overall last week, along with qualifying for District 3-AAA playoff, the expectations are very high this year, even with a new coach. According to Coach Barrell they want to win the division, make county playoffs and qualify for district playoffs.
'We have some very talented players that can take us to where we want to go,' said Barrell.
Barrell sees the Berks 3 division as a wide open race. There is no real favorite to win the division.
'I see four pretty good teams at the top - Antietam, Wyomissing, Tulpehocken and OleyValley,' said Barrell. 'Yes, I feel like we can challenge in the division and win it if we continue to grow as a team'
The Lynx have five non-league games set up for the season. Outside of their division, they're playing Twin Valley, Muhlenberg, Owen J. Roberts, Boyertown, and Muhlenberg. He feels that they are five really good teams. He hopes that playing quality non-league teams, his team will only get better.
There is not doubt that this could be a very good season for the Lynx. The question is can they adjust to the system the new coach is instituting? The answer to that question will come quickly.
Phil Haddad is a free lance writer for the Times. You can follow him on twitter @writersprtsBT