Given his team’s 1-8 start, Odessa boys’ basketball coach Anthony Deas has taken to joking that his team has met at least one of its early season goals.

“You never want to peak too early and I don’t think we have to worry about that,” Deas told Texas Scorecard. “But really, I’m always reminding the guys it’s not how you start but how you finish and I think we’ll continue to get better and develop.”

The Bronchos lost nine players from last year’s 24-9 team, but Deas is convinced this year’s squad can ultimately make its own highlights.

“We’re a young but tough team,” he added. “In order for us to have the kind of impact we had last season we have to remember that things didn’t happen overnight either. I really think we’ll find out footing and again be where we need to be come district-play time.”

The senior backcourt duo of Caleb Murray and Ryan Brazeal give the Bronchos a fighting chance.

The 6-foot, 160-pound Murray started every game last season and was tabbed all-district.

“He’s lightning-fast, shoots the ball well and gets to the basket to find open teammates,” Deas added. “Plus, he’s very good on defense and never stops working.”

In Brazeal, Deas thinks the Bronchos boast one of the best shooters around. He averaged 7 points last season as one of the first players off the bench.

With no player taller than 6-foot-2, Deas said what Odessa lacks in size they make up for in toughness. That’s where underclassmen Christian Tijerina and Justin Ortiz come in.

Deas describes Tijerina as a slasher who brings great energy and never backs down. And at just 5-8, Ortiz has the kind of nose for the ball you can’t teach and doesn’t mind mixing it up, he added.

“We’re working every day and getting better at what we want to be doing,” Deas said.