Friday, Dec. 8, 2017 | 1:24 p.m.
A learning curve exists for even the most talented of freshmen, with coaches often trying to navigate it by not overloading their young stars with pressure.
That was the case last year at Durango with Anthony Hunter, who averaged 10 points per game despite having a measured workload. There will be no such shortage of responsibilities with Hunter now a sophomore.
“No more teaching, no more holding my hand,” Hunter said. “It’s, ‘Go produce. Lead the team.’”
Hunter has done just that so far, leading the Trailblazers in scoring in each of their first three games. They’ve started 1-2 but that’s with losses to highly ranked Clark and Desert Oasis.
Sharing the Southwest division with those two teams as well as Bishop Gorman and Sierra Vista will give Durango one of the toughest schedules in the city. It was also that way last year, when Durango was able to squeak out the final playoff spot over Desert Oasis as Hunter improved throughout the season.
“It’s a lot of pressure for a freshman to come in, not only to a varsity team, but the Southwest was pretty loaded last year as well,” Durango coach DeShawn Henry said. “So for him to come in and get that experience, I think now he has an idea of what it takes to be successful so he can lead our team.”
Hunter is far from without help. Junior Nick Blake is likely to pour in just as many points behind a deep senior class of role players and several more underclassmen looking to make a name for themselves.
“Last year, we were kind of senior-heavy, had a lot of experience but we’re really excited about this youth movement we have going on right now at Durango,” Henry said, “and really excited to see what these guys are going to do this season.”
The Trailblazers know they won’t have it easy. But instead of looking at their division as a burden, they’re viewing it as a blessing.
“I’m excited for it because there’s no better basketball,” Blair said. “We have the best league.”