Donald Hubbard hopes his West Rusk County boys’ basketball team’s identity crisis is finally over.

“Before we got here last year, we walked the ball up the court and set up everything we did,” he told Texas Scorecard. “It was clear to us coaches our offense was more geared to get up and down the floor.”

Since Hubbard took over, the change in the bottom-line results have almost been as obvious as the changes themselves. The Raiders finished at .500 last season, making the playoffs for the first time in 10 years.

“We’ve got high hopes of being there again this season,” Hubbard added. “We’re hoping our athleticism and quickness will pay off for us.”

Junior point-guard Talon Winings, a first-team 3A All-District selection last season, sets the table for Rusk.

“He’s quick, athletic and fearless,” Hubbard said of his 5-foot-11, 165-pound standout, who also stars on the school’s football team as a defensive back. Earlier this year, Winings was tabbed East Texas Sports Network Defensive Player of the Week after recovering a fumble for a touchdown and adding a game-clinching interception in an 18-17 win over Waskom.

Senior forward Koure Johnson, who was second-team all-district last season, also figures prominently for the Raiders.

“He’s a shooter that can get inside and mix it up,” Hubbard said of the 6-foot-1, 190 pound senior. “He’s a good decisionmaker and helps make sure we take care of the ball.”

On the interior, Rusk counts on 6-foot-3, 290-pound Darius Richardson, a Division 1 football recruit.

“He’s a big kid, but he moves well and can really pass the ball,” Hubbard added. “Of course, he’s physical, but he can shoot the 3 and has really become a dual-threat for us.”

In all, Rusk returns six players from last year’s rising squad, giving Hubbard even more cause for optimism.

“We feel good about the program,” he said. “The young kids are coming along and they’re working hard. When you’re at athletic as we are it makes coaching a lot easier.”

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