Southside boys basketball enters 6A West without much experience, but with ‘a lot of options’

Over the next few weeks, SBLive Arkansas will break down every 6A boys and girls basketball team in the state entering the 2020-21 season. Here’s our look at the Southside Mavericks boys.

SOUTHSIDE TEAM PAGE | 2020-21 SCHEDULE

HEAD COACH

Stewart Adams, second season (5-23)

2019-20 AT A GLANCE

Overall record: 5-23

Conference record: 0-14 (eighth place in 6A Central)

Playoffs: None

ALL-CONFERENCE PLAYERS DEPARTED

G Mykale Franks, honorable mention

PLAYERS TO WATCH

C Josh Merrell, sr., 6-5

The Mavericks’ most experienced player, Merrell started some as a sophomore and nearly every game a season ago. He didn’t score a ton last season, but Merrell is a smart player on offense and defense who can finish around the basket and take care of business at the foul line. “He’s a blue-collar guy,” Adams said. “He’s a leader and somebody the kids look up to and he’s going to do the right things on and off the court.”  

G Yazed Taforo, so., 6-0

Taforo is a promising sophomore who brings big-time athleticism to the team. He is a versatile young player who can bang inside with bigger posts and shoot the ball from long distance. “And he’s pretty explosive to the hole,” Adams said. “We’re expecting good things out of him as he matures.” 

G Caiden LaRoche, sr., 6-0

LaRoche played spot minutes for the Mavericks last season and is a player with great ability on the offensive end. “He can get hot and really put up big numbers on a night,” Adams said. “He’s also one of our most explosive athletes.”

OUTLOOK

Nonconference play is going to be crucial for the Mavericks, who are new to the 6A West. Southside went 0-14 last season in the 6A Central with just one single-digit loss.

“We don’t return a lot of experience,” Adams said. “We do have some seniors, about 10 seniors, but only one has really played a lot of varsity basketball. That’s something that’s a concern right now and something that all those guys need experience this nonconference season.”

On the positive side, Southside appears to have ample depth behind Merrell and Taforo, who has been impressive in early practices. Adams will have the ability to mix and match his lineups as the season progresses.

“Right now, probably one of our biggest strengths is I think we can play 10 or 12 guys a game and there’s not a whole lot of drop-off,” the coach said. “Sometimes that makes it difficult to find out who’s playing well that night, but you have a lot of options, too.”

The Mavericks have missed the playoffs the past two seasons, a streak that is likely to continue this winter. But Southside does have some pieces to work with as it enters the 6A West.

“I just want us to progress this first part of the season,” Adams said. “We have some really tough games toward the end of nonconference where we play Northside and Little Rock Catholic and Van Buren, and we’re looking to be competitive with these guys and earn some victories right there.

“In conference we would love to … I don’t know if we can go out and win a conference title this year, but I think finishing around the middle of the pack would be a good accomplishment for us.” 

COACH SAID 

“This group has been together for three years and they know the system. We expect them to be able to execute and do what we need them to do.” — Stewart Adams

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