Changes from year to year in high school sports are an expected part of the routine, but rarely do teams undergo the level of alterations facing the Perry boys basketball team.
Perry was 4-18 last season and 1-13 in Raccoon River Conference play after enduring a winless 2018-2019 campaign.
Gone from the 2019-2020 team are nine seniors, taking with them 789 of the 896 points scored by the Jays. Also gone is head coach Aaron Lyons, who is being replaced by former Ogden head coach David Morris.
The challenges facing Morris are substantial, but the new leader remained optimistic.
“I know we are going to struggle in a lot of areas, but I also know that this team will be much better, much better, at the end of the season than we are now,” Morris said. “I can tell you I like our attitude and the willingness of these guys to work. If you have that, you are going to see improvements.”
Perry’s woes on offense were stifling, as the team was 62nd of 64 in Class 3A in total points (896), 3-point accuracy (34.3 percent), and, critically, in free throw accuracy (52.5 percent), an area that has plagued the team for several seasons.
“I think a lot of this is confidence,” Morris said. “You have to believe in yourself and your teammates and trust each other. We will be working on that every day, and, as that improves, so will the team.”
Senior June Rey Riesberg is the leading returning scorer with 70 points. He had 39 rebounds, 22 steals and shot 13-of-40 (32.5 percent) beyond the 3-point arc.
Sophomore Sincere Johnson and junior Caden Steva will be called upon to increase their contributions, with seniors Jordan Ochoa and Dalton Scott, along with junior Jeremy Mateso, comprising the five starters and first off-the-bench.
Juniors Kaleb Lyddon and Matthew Booker and sophomores Bryce Anliker and Noriel Riesberg are also out, as are freshmen Drake Levan, Brandon Mahler and Kaelin Davis.
“I like what I see among the younger kids,” Morris said. “They need experience to be become more physically mature, but when they do I think they will be a real help to us.”
Perry will host Carlisle Tuesday for their home opener. The girls game will begin at 6 p.m. with the boys contest to follow.