Last season: 15-14 (lost to Bryan Station in semifinals of 42nd District Tournament)
Coach: Rob Goodman (third year)
1. Jake Duby: 6-2, 175 junior forward who will spend time at every position this season. He will be called upon to continue carrying the Sayre offense after averaging a team-best 17 points as a sophomore.
2. Robbie Goodman: 5-11, 170 junior shooting guard who was an All-City soccer second-teamer as a goalkeeper this season.
3. Zack Jones: 6-5, 195, one of only two senior Spartans.
Others to watch: Marcus Bowie, a 6-3, 160-pound sophomore center. He and/or Jones has an opportunity to fill big gap at center.
*The original version of this article listed Will Newton, an All-City soccer selection this season, as a player to watch for Sayre this season. The Herald-Leader learned on Nov. 28 that he will not play basketball this season.
Games you gotta see: Sayre starts with three games on the road — at East Jessamine (Dec. 1), at Paris (Dec. 5) and at Frankfort (Dec. 8) — for a swing that’ll show where it’s at pretty quickly. The Greyhounds squad could make some noise in the 10th Region so if you’re looking for a road trip, that’s your best bet. The Spartans’ first chance to take down a city foe will be Jan. 6 at Henry Clay.
Fast facts: The Spartans have reached the All “A” Classic just one time, in 1998. They open the 11th Region All “A” Classic with Model on the road Jan. 19. ... Sayre graduated 6-foot-8 standout Quinn Pergande, who went on to play at Centre College.
This season: “(Quinn Pergande) really helped us defensively, and offensively we ran a lot of sets for him. Those sets are now no longer relevant until our younger posts learn how to run the plays and make the moves. We do return a lot of players but they weren’t called upon to be leaders with the exception of Jake Duby, who was our leading scorer. Now we’ve gotta get other guys to step up and be looking to score. I think early on we’ll have a hard time trying to figure out each other’s roles but hopefully by Christmastime we’ll have that established and everybody will know what to look for. It’s a talented group and it’s just young and unpolished right now.”
Being at Sayre: “One of my things when I got here was to instill in them was that our expectations are for you to at least try to do it. Every other program I’ve ever been with, you just did it — you went out and made it happen. I don’t think they always thought that here. I think they thought, ‘Well, we hope we can make it happen.’ Our expectations are ‘Go out and try to do it.’ I’m not going to coach you any differently than I did at Henry Clay, Dunbar, Transylvania or Morehead. I’m gonna coach you exactly the same and have the same exact expectations for you. They seem to really respond to that and like it. ...
“There’s still that mountain we’re trying to climb which is being in the toughest district in the toughest state of basketball but I’m not making excuses for it and neither should our program. I think sometimes a negative light gets shown on us because of that fact, because we haven’t been able to take down those guys as often as we’d hope and people see us around the state as not being a good team. I think if we were maybe somewhere else we’d be right there. But we have a good time with it. The 11th Region is the epitome of high school basketball in Kentucky. It is what everybody wants to compete in.”
Underdogs: “It’s so much more fun when people tell you you can’t do something from a little school like Sayre and then you do it. When you beat a city school or when you beat a bigger school or you make it to the region or you win a tournament. People don’t expect that so it makes it that much more fun when you’re able to do it.”
Goals: “We’re always trying to shoot for the All ‘A’ and LCA’s had some good squads the last couple of years. We’ve been solid and played them in the (11th Region) finals both years and battled with them for a little while then ran out of steam. Ultimately we gotta get bigger and stronger. My goal this year, realistically, is we wanna compete for the All ‘A.’”
Jake Duby: On style this season ... “We’re gonna do a lot more guard offense and shoot a lot more threes. We’re gonna run a lot more. We can’t afford a lot of half-court offense especially without a big man. It’s gonna be a lot tougher but I think it’ll be good for us by the end.”
On helping younger guys ... “We really like to make sure before practice and after practice to work with them. If they mess up, instead of yelling at them, because the quicker they get in the flow of things the easier it’ll be for ’em.”
On self improvements over summer ... “Last year I was pretty successful scoring the ball but I would take a beating when I would go inside. So I really focused in the offseason on getting more muscle and being able to finish inside a little better without getting knocked to the floor. I also focused on off-the-dribble jump shots like pull-up midrange, pull-up threes instead of just the set shots.”
Robbie Goodman: On losing Pergande ... “Anytime you lose a 6-8 guy like Quinn, it changes the dynamic of the offense completely. But this summer we did a good job of spreading the floor more, and it’s been pretty effective so far.”
On team expectations ... “We’ve got some young guys who I think it’s good for them to get their experience now. As the season progresses you’ll start to see us a get a lot better.”
On building young guys’ confidence ... “We don’t want them to get down on themselves if they make a mistake. Everyone’s stepping into a new role. Some guys just went from freshman to JV last year. We’ve got a sophomore starting point guard right now who has a whole new role and we’ve gotta make sure he’s ready to embrace it.”