Following a third straight 20-win season on the hardwood, New Braunfels boys basketball coach David Brawner welcomes back five lettermen this year.
However, not all of them will be ready for today’s 1 p.m. tip-off against Central Catholic at St. Mary’s University in San Antonio. A few players, including all-district point guard Adam Boyce and forward Jack Lewis, are still overcoming injuries sustained in the offseason.
Until they return, the Unicorns will shuffle their lineup around a bit.
“Adam will hopefully be back in the first week of December,” Brawner said. “Lewis tore his ACL in May and we’re hoping (he’s back) mid-December, right before district starts. That’s the hope and prayer.”
In the interim, retuning senior Fernando Hinojosa will likely juggle the point guard duties in addition to shouldering the load as New Braunfels’ top shooter. As a junior, Hinojosa averaged 7.9 points per game and shot 36 percent from beyond the 3-point arc.
“He’s hands-down our best scorer, even when everybody gets back,” Brawner said of Hinojosa. “He’s going to be counted on to play some point guard until Adam gets back, and try to score as well.”
The Unicorns also bring back senior post Steve McGehee, who led his team in rebounding during the 2017-18 campaign with 5.8 boards per contest. Senior guard Ethan Duliban is set to make the move to the basketball court soon after starring as a wide receiver for New Braunfels’ football team.
The Unicorns will also turn to a group of newcomers to make an impact right away. Brawner said Josh Gonzales will help take care of the point guard duties, and guard/forward Mason Pullen, guard Eli Datesman, forward Collin Presley and guard/forward Jackson Reid will likely see minutes early on.
The new-look District 26-6A will feature all of the familiar foes from 27-6A, with the exception of Wagner. San Marcos moves into the league and brings with it a fast-paced style that attempts plenty of shots from long distance.
“Very well coached, and they do shoot a lot of 3s,” Brawner said of the Rattlers. “Solid team. Not big, so they’re going to have to do some things, but they’re going to be a very tough out every night.”
Overall, Brawner sees 26-6A as having more depth than in years past. Of course, Steele, Judson and Clemens will still be very athletic across the board.
“East Central, I think, is going to rebound,” Brawner said. “I think they’re going to be really good and Judson, Steele, Clemens, they’re all the same, and Canyon is really good. I think it’s going to be a dogfight again. I do think that the top edge is not as good as it’s been and I think the bottom of the district is better than it’s been. I don’t think the district champion is going to be undefeated.”
Before district play rolls around on Dec. 18 against Canyon at the Cougar Den, New Braunfels will take a trip to Corpus Christi for a tournament on Nov. 29 through Dec. 1 before co-hosting the River City Classic with Canyon on Dec. 7 and 8.
The Unicorns’ home opener is set for this coming Tuesday at 7 p.m. against San Antonio Southwest Legacy.