After losing four starters from last year’s team to graduation, Mountlake Terrace Hawks’ Boys Basketball Coach Nalin Sood has plenty of holes to fill in this season’s Hawk squad. And while Sood has now assembled his players for the year, he still is waiting to see who will step up and take on an essential team leadership role.
“I hope that we can find an alpha male. That’s what we talk about,” Sood said.
Terrace will open their 2016-2017 season with a pair of road games: Tuesday, Nov. 29, at West Seattle High School against the Wildcats, and Wednesday, Nov. 30, at Kamiak High School against the Knights. Sood is hoping that in those first two games of the year a leader may emerge among his players.
“When the going gets tough, he’s going to take charge and lead the team — maybe not with the scoring but maybe on the defense, or rebounding, or making just that play,” he explained.
Sood, now in his 16th season as Terrace’s head coach, has plenty of potential candidates on this year’s roster that could become that needed Alpha Hawk.
Khyree Armstead enters his second season on the Terrace varsity team as one expected to provide plenty of offense. The junior averaged just over seven points per game last year but reached double-figure scoring in five games, including a 16-point effort in an early season match-up against Marysville-Pilchuck.
“He’s got some explosiveness. His body is maturing a little bit, but he’s got athleticism and he’s got length,” Sood said about Armstead.
Joining Armstead as a scoring threat will be senior Sean Kirk, a Shorewood High School transfer that Sood is grateful to have on the Hawk roster this year.
“Sean brings varsity experience,” Sood said. “Sean brings a knack for being able to get to the basket. He’s got some good offensive skills.”
Sood may be most excited to have Brock Davis back in playing condition for this season after the senior had to sit out the entire 2015-2016 season due to an injury.
“Brock had the biggest journey to come back and play this year,” Sood explained. “A lot of guys get done with their season, they’re motivated, (then) they get the off-season — Brock had to sit and watch the guys play all of last year. And he had every reason, a kid like that, to wonder if it is still worth it. And here he is today back playing.”
Sood considers Davis an inspirational force for the rest of the squad. “Now that he’s back and the leadership he’s showing to come back and be who he is, I think that’s a tremendous lesson for everybody else on our team,” Sood said.
With no true center to match up against opponent’s 6-foot-6, 6-foot-7 or taller big men, Sood admits that team size might be a disadvantage for the Hawks this year; but in the same breath, Sood also argues that the lack of team size might not be a disadvantage after all.
“We’ve got multiple guys with good athleticism — size might be our weakness, but I think size might be our strength because (opponents) have to come guard us also,” Sood said. “On the offensive end teams are going to have to guard us, so I hope we can be a team that is hard to guard.”
Terrace teams have a history of playing with grit and determination, something Sood is already seeing this year in his squad even before game action has begun.
“These guys are a good bunch to work with everyday,” Sood concluded. “We’re early — it’s in the infancy of the season — but everyday at practice they come and try to execute the practice plan and allow us to do our job of trying to get them ready. Because they’re doing their job by bringing it every day to practice — the attitude, the work ethic, as I said earlier the team consciousness. All those things are just right there.”
After away dates at West Seattle and Kamiak this week, the Hawks will spend much of December at home, including a pair of games in their own holiday tournament December 27 and 28. To view the entire MTHS Hawks boys basketball schedule for 2015-2016, click https://www.wescoathletics.com/index.php?pid=0.3.40.3.321.
2016-2017 MTHS Hawks Boys Basketball
Head Coach: Nalin Sood
Key returning players: Khyree Armstead, Brock Davis, Joey Gardner
Key new player: Sean Kirk
Key dates: opens season Nov. 29 at West Seattle; opens Wesco League play Dec. 13 at Shorecrest; hosts Mountlake Terrace Holiday Tournament Dec. 27-28; ends regular season Feb. 6 versus Marysville-Pilchuck; postseason playoffs begin Feb. 9
–By Doug Petrowski