With the Jacksonville Indians and the Troup Tigers scheduled to see their first action of the season Friday night, the new high school buys basketball season will officially be under way for all of the local and area boys teams, with the exception of Rusk, who gets its season rolling on Monday in the Union Hill Tournament.
The Mark Alexander era will get under way at 7:15 p.m. Friday when the Tribesmen face off against Brownsboro.
Alexander, the son of Jacksonville coaching legend John Alexander, is taking over for Brent Kelley who left to become the coach of the Whitehouse Wildcats in late summer.
Jacksonville and Whitehouse are predicted by many to be the top dogs in District 16-4A, and one can never dismiss John Tyler from those discussions as well.
The Indians were hit hard by graduation, but return several players that were key contributors or role players last year.
Jacksonville will be looking for Raybon Riden (6'1”), Daytron Thompson (6'0) and Charles Kendrick (6'3”) to step up to fill some of the holes as well as to provide leadership this season.
There should be several new faces on the varsity roster from a junior varsity team that went 21-6 a year ago.
In District 19-3A look for the Rusk Eagles to contend for a post season berth (along with Mexia, Fairfield and Palestine) in the Eagles' second season under head coach Zach Allison.
Allison is expected to have the services of all-district players Ray Foreman (6'0”) and fellow senior Taylon Sturns, with guards D. J. Glenn and Jay Johnson expected to make significant contributions for the Red and Black this winter as well.
With a little luck and good health the Bullard Panthers could be right in the thick of things in District 16-3A.
The Panthers have a handful of players that saw heavy duty at the varsity level last year.