Paschal High School boys’ basketball fans may have plenty to look forward to this season with a new coach bringing in a new tempo to one of the more classic facilities around.

The Panthers, who finished 10-18 last season with a 5-9 mark in District 3-5A play, welcome David Watson to his first career head coaching position.

Watson, who most recently served on district champion and regional semifinalist North Crowley’s staff for the past two seasons, says he looks to bring in a “new brand of ball” for the Purple and White.

“We plan on bringing in a faster, upper tempo style of play with pressure defense,” he said. “Last year, a lot of the scores were in the 30s and 40s. We are looking to get them into the 60s and 70s.”

It may not be too much of a stretch with six letterman returning, including the squad’s top two performers from the previous year, guards Xavier Mayes (second-team All-District 3-5A) and Da’Mon Smith.

Quality experience from the core of the roster can be expected to complement Watson’s recent experience in the district.

“It won’t necessarily make it easier,” Watson said. “But having some familiarity with other coaches and playing styles makes it a lot easier to scout and prepare for games.”

Another sort of familiarity Watson brings to the table is college basketball experience. He was an NJCAA Honorable Mention All-American at Spartanburg Methodist College and later became a team captain of Division I’s Liberty University, but will not take it for granted as automatic improvement for the program.

“It doesn’t give me a leg up,” he said. “The best thing it helps with is player development and knowing what is needed [of them]. I had the privilege of going through some of these drills in my college program, and we want ours to have a college feel with the intensity level of our drills.”

The Panthers are also taking the initiative of moving their program up a notch by taking part in three tournaments in the early going.

“We’re going to the Coca-Cola Thanksgiving Classic at Wilkerson-Greines Center [located next to TCC South campus] and the Northeast Lions Club Tournament in North Richland Hills,” Watson said. “The one in Cedar Hill will be tough.”

The two most influential people in the program have the right mentality, but also have a tangible weapon that few high schools have.

Paschal’s basketball gym, constructed in the 1950s, has seating on just one side of its gym, and only holds five rows at that. Boys Athletic Coordinator Matt Cook, who is in his seventh year at the school, says he appreciates the intimate feel to it.

“It’s nice having a small-town feel to know it’s always filled to the brim,” he said. “It’s a great little venue and our kids love it. Coach Watson wants to bring it back for the start of his head coaching career.”

Cook also added that the facility is always receiving new lighting, painting, locker room additions, and concession space. The court is also redone twice a year.

The dawning of a new era in Paschal basketball is here, and those close to the program are looking up. Time will tell how the Panthers perform on the prowl.

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