Low player numbers have made it difficult for the Nucla boys basketball team for the past couple of years.
“Overall, I think it is a program that has struggled to get some momentum and getting kids to make a commitment to the program,” said Epright, who now coaches both the boys and girls teams. So far, 11 boys have come out to play this year. “I am going to give them the best I have and hopefully we are going to create a program that we can be proud of and move in an upward direction.”
Epright said three returning seniors, who all have "great leadership" qualities, will lead the team onto the court this year. “So far, I am impressed with their work ethic and their drive to get better,” he said.
The Mustangs’ season will begin at the Mountain Shootout Tournament in Ridgway on Dec. 3-4, where it will meet a host of other San Juan Basin League foes, including Norwood, Ouray and Ridgway. After that, Nucla will host Olathe High School at home on Dec. 11 and then travel to Fruita-Monument High School on Dec. 14. Before winter break, Nucla faces rival Norwood High School at home on Dec. 18.
According to Epright, to build a successful season, the team will have to do “the small things right.”
“I think we are going to be able to contend and play with a lot of teams by making some little adjustments,” he said. “An example of that is meeting the pass against pressure. If we can do some of those things fundamentally, we will compete.”
Ultimately, the Mustangs will be focused on doing well at the Regional tournament in late February for a chance to make it to the state tournament.
“I think we can surprise some people this year if we stick together fundamentally,” Epright said.