Hatley coach Stephen Deaton started to see his team come together in two areas this summer: experience and athleticism.

“It’s been a good summer, and we’re working really hard,” Deaton said. “We’re going to be so much faster this year and more athletic than we have been in previous years just because of our speed on the floor.”

Deaton said he has seen his four seniors take charge, which includes Keller Wren, his returning leading scorer and his point guard.

“We have Keller coming back and being a senior. You have Parker (Easter), Dylan (Denton) and Nick (Washington) all also seniors,” Deaton said. “ All four of those guys can move on the floor and get up and down the floor. It’s something we have been working toward for three years, being able to push and move the ball. It’s been good.”

Behind those four seniors, juniors Markhel Hunt and Brody Bickerstaff come back with plenty of starting experience last season, and Deaton said he’s seen positives out of the rest of his juniors and his underclassmen.

“Markhel (Hunt) has also had a really good summer. We only had a handful of games with everyone because Keller had a broken hand, and we have looked decent. We have Markhel, Luke (Moffett) and Brody (Bickerstaff) all coming back as juniors, and they will all contribute again,” Deaton said. “Again, it’s all guys who can get up and down the floor and are athletic guys. We have some young talent coming up with guys like Jaxon Knight, who’s a freshman. He’s going to log quite a few varsity minutes, so it’s a good group.”

Deaton said he feels like with so much experience coming back that his bench will be stronger next season.

“Our seniors are going to be a big part, but I feel like honestly, I am eight or nine deep without much of a dropoff, whether it’s a senior or a sophomore coming in or even Jaxon at times,” he said. “That’s good because the way we’re going to play, I’m going to try to be aggressive and quick on defense especially. There won’t be much down time at all.”

Hatley played competition at Amory, Myrtle and Smithville in summer leagues and also saw Mooreville twice.

“We have played some good teams, some good competition this summer. It’s good for us because our division is really tough,” Deaton said. “The reality is it’s never going to be easy for us to make it in the playoffs. We’re fighting and trying to get better and working on moving forward from that.”

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