Ballinger boys basketball coach Jamal Anene likes his team’s mantra entering this season almost as much as he did the popular “Respeck!” rallying cry that propelled them to a 24-9 finish last season.

“This year our motto is we can do it again,” Anene told Texas Scorecard. “We have a lot of potential to be as good as last year or better, proving again we can hang with the elite squads and be a playoff team once again.”

With 6-foot-4, 225 pound senior frontcourt star Marcus Toliver manning the offense, Anene likes the Bearcats’ chances. Toliver opened the season with 20 points and 17 rebounds in a 63-52 win over Breckenridge.

“He was a big part of what we did last year,” Anene added. “His numbers may not have been that big, but he brought a lot of intangibles for us. This year, his role needs to increase when it comes to scoring for us to be as good as we can be.”

Anene describes Toliver as an “active player,” who is often as good and productive as they come.

“He has goals of playing at the next level, so he’s totally committed to making this a big year for himself and for the team,” he said. “Beyond that, we have great balance coming from a group of guys who all want the same thing and that’s for us to win.”

Anene said point-guard Edgar Nunez serves as his coach on the floor and is a natural leader who sets the tone.

“He plays quarterback on the football team too,” he said. “He’d only been in one practice with us by the opener and still finished with 8 points, 7 assists and four steals.  He started some last year and was very productive. We’re looking for even more from him this season.”

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