Last year the Blue Comets of Chanute High School upset Bishop Miege in the sub-state championship game, advancing to the state playoffs for the first time since 2015. A season later, first-year head coach Devon Crabtree is trying to build off that triumph.

This was the first week Blue Comet basketball players officially practiced, and Crabtree said he was stoked about the year and how his student-athletes looked to date.

“It’s been good, guys have worked really hard; it’s been a lot of fun and new stuff for everybody,” Crabtree said. “So I’m just hoping and keep trying to remind them to retain the new information to them, but they are working really hard, and that’s the most important thing, so we are excited about that.”

With the first day of practice transpiring on Monday, Crabtree, along with assistants Jeremy Wire (junior varsity coach) and Travis Tobin (freshman coach), have been managing practice in Chanute High’s gym, coaxing student-athletes to emphasize skill work — offensively and defensively. And these are just the type of drills players have been fervently working on.

Off the bat, players in attendance have been impressing Crabtree, including freshman Eric Erbe (6-1), who has been shooting the ball extremely well in practice. Sophomore Shan Williams Jr. has also caught the eye of Crabtree, exhibiting the mental fortitude on playing basketball the right way, all the while shooting the ball well.

These were the players who stood out to Crabtree earlier in the week because a bevvy of players didn’t start practice due to football season. Several returning players who were very much a part of last year’s SEK Championship team reported to practice Thursday, including seniors Ty Bowman (6-5), Briley Peavy (5-10), junior Garrett Almond (6-1) and sophomore Kam Koester (6-2), amongst other upperclassmen.

Bowman is the only returning starter with any experience with varsity minutes for the 2019-2020 season. The student-athlete is a slashing big man who can get to the rim and finish well around the basket. He can also block shots and rebound.

Peavy is a quick guard who can defend; Crabtree noted he is considered one of the best on-ball defenders in the league. What’s more, he can also control the flow of the game, and puts emphasis on going to the free throw line.

According to Crabtree, Almond will be one of the best shooters in the SEK this coming year. He will also be used to guard some of the bigger guards on the floor.

Koester will be used as a floor general as well, but as an off-guard. The three-sport athlete has a knack for taking good shots and making the correct decision on the floor.

Senior Josh Slansky (6-4) is a swiss-army-knife player. He does many of the little things on the floor, such as blocking shots, rebounding, running the floor, filling the lanes and making layups.

Just as they’re practicing now — including cycles, animal and circle rebounding drills on Thursday — these players will be playing an up-tempo, fast-pace style of basketball on the offensive end, including shooting a bunch of threes and getting to the basket.

On defense, Crabtree expects each and every player to hold their own.

Crabtree has been practicing offense and defense with these players all week, but said he is fortunate to have a knowledgeable coaching staff to assist.

“It’s been really good, I’ve been fortunate to have two assistants that can help me, and understand the high school level more than I do and how to be efficient with a group of guys; it’s been a pretty smooth transition,” Crabtree commented. “Both of those guys are good with high school kids and the kids enjoying being around them. They do a good job of just seeing little things that I don’t see and using their voice.”

Chanute will look to schedule an intrasquad scrimmage within the next few weeks.

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