Special to The Sun
The Edmond Santa Fe Wolves will begin their trek getting back to the state championship and returning to high school prominence next week, led by first-year head coach Lenny Hatchett.
Hatchett has been in the state tournament for the last three seasons as head coach of Mount St. Mary. The 15-year head coaching veteran is excited to be part of the tradition of Sante Fe, only the third head coach in school history.
“I’ve got some big shoes to fill. They’ve done a good job leaving a tradition of good basketball,” Hatchett said.
Santa Fe went 21-7 last season on their way to the Class 6A state semi-finals, their second straight season reaching that point. The Wolves lost to Tulsa Union in that game, ending their season. ESF lost key members from that squad, and not just to graduation. Wichita State commit Shaquille Morris transferred to Edmond Memorial to play for the defending state champions. Graduates Aaron Anderson, Justin Jones and Phoenix Bills were all members of the All-Edmond Basketball team.
The new-look, up-tempo Wolves will feature the leadership of now senior Kade Jacobs. The 6-foot-4 guard/forward has stepped up during the first six weeks of practice as the vocal leader and Hatchett is happy to have him.
“Vocally, Kade Jacobs has been remarkable. He has done a good job of buying into what we’re trying to do here,” Hatchett said. The head coach went on to speak highly of what it meant to have a senior stand up and become a leader under a first-year head coach. “It can be tough,” Hatchett said.
The first-year head man said that a lot of different team-building events have helped him gain the trust of his new team and give him the opportunity to field a better squad.
“What helped me was getting to these kids sooner,” Hatchett said.
Hatchett gave some insight into the type of basketball Edmond Santa Fe will play this season: an up-tempo, fast-paced team that utilizes its guard skills and creates offense from its defense. Hatchett said that discipline will drive the team and there will be a lot of sets in the half-court.
“We want to put the ball in the guy’s hands that can make plays,” Hatchett said. One of those playmakers that has stood out in practice has been Daequan Jeffries.
“He has really added an inside presence and really added to our offense,” Hatchett said. “He has good instincts and plays extremely good down low.”
The presence will be something the Wolves need to mask the loss of Morris, who averaged 13 points and more than five rebounds for Santa Fe last season. Dec. 17 at 7:45 p.m. the Wolves will have their chance to show Morris why he should have stayed on the west side of Broadway.
The preseason polls haven’t forgotten about the Wolves. One poll had them as high as the No. 7 team in the state.
“It really doesn’t mean anything now,” Hatchett said. “The kids like to have fun with that. My biggest thing is that I want to be playing in that final game in March.”