ELKINS (KFSM)--There's a lot about last year the Elkins Elks might like to forget. But remembering has become a motivator.
"We were just one game short from going to state, and we can go further this year, and like, just believe in ourselves and we can do it," says junior point guard Chad Graham.
"There's not a day goes by that we don't bring it up," says head coach Jared Porter
And they’re off to a good start. Last year's squad only managed 11 wins, a total this team matched before the end of December. Those who played last year say the credit belongs to those who didn't.
"Honestly I think it’s the sophomores," admits Ethan Hipps, a senior. "they come in and they give us a different energy level, and they just make us go a lot harder."
Senior guard Layne Evans agrees.
"It’s definitely the sophomores coming in, they just bring a whole different energy, and practices are more amped up, people get more into it."
Three sophomores, Paxton Barnett (18.6 PPG), Quinn McClain (10.2 PPG), and Caden Vaught (6 PPG), combine for more than 58% of the teams points every game.
Riding the youth wave, the upperclassmen are focusing on their role as mentors.
"Their leadership has been really crucial," Porter says of his older players. "Yes we have some talent coming up that’s young, but their leadership has been just invaluable."
"We kind of get rowdy a little bit," admits Graham, "but we make sure we don’t get in too much trouble."
"I gotta step up and be a leader for the younger guys," realizes Hipps, "cause sometimes they come out, they go a little out of control."
When all that energy is unleashed on the court, good things have happened. The Elks have harnessed that energy and turned it into strategy, says Porter
"Our enthusiasm, our energy, guys play so hard, guys play so well together, and it’s really just created a lot of transition points."
Graham breaks down the philosophy well.
"We like a lot of fast breaks, cause more fast breaks, more points, and then, pretty much more points, more wins."
So far, it’s a strategy that’s working out for the Elks.