LAPEL — Like many boys basketball teams in the coverage area, Lapel is undergoing something of a makeover this season.
None of the others, however, have a head coach with more than 500 career victories.
The losses of Tanner Watkins and Drew Norton following a 12-10 season will present challenges for the Bulldogs. But Jimmie Howell — who has 507 wins in 33 years overall and 145 wins including a Class 2A state championship in 10 years at Lapel — has seen it all before.
"There's a lot of playing time up for grabs with a lot of schools (in the county)," Howell said. "You try to get your program up to a point where you really don't have many years where you have seven or eight seniors on your team. Each year, you've got a little bit (of experience) coming back."
To that end, Howell returns three starters this season in seniors Mitchell Richardson and Bailey Partington and junior Brady Cherry. Senior Josh Erwin would have been the fourth, but he underwent surgery for a torn anterior cruciate ligament Thursday morning and will miss the season.
Richardson emerged last season as a sharp-shooter and brought his game to another level over the summer.
"He's able to put the ball on the floor and go to the basket a lot more than he did last year," Howell said.
Cherry is an outstanding all-around athlete who will be asked to fill many roles this season. Watkins was the team's primary ballhandler, and Norton was the primary scorer in the post.
Cherry, who carries 205 pounds on his 6-foot-3 frame, will be part of the solution at both positions.
"He's going to play a little bit of everywhere for us," Howell said of the baseball star who also served as the football team's quarterback this fall. "He's very versatile and can play about every position on the floor."