ELDRED – Rebuilding a program, especially in one of the smallest schools in the county, is a tall task. When Bill Furler took over the Varsity basketball team last year, going 0-14 in his first …
ELDRED – Rebuilding a program, especially in one of the smallest schools in the county, is a tall task. When Bill Furler took over the Varsity basketball team last year, going 0-14 in his first year wasn’t the plan. However, it set the stage for the 2022-23 rebuild that saw three freshmen starters lead a Yellowjackets team to Sectionals. The rapid turnaround, despite a first round exit to Roscoe, showed the potential that Eldred will have in Class D in the coming years.
The struggles that Furler faced in 2021-22 were short lived, as he took a rookie varsity team with no returning playoffs and a lack of varsity experience into the season.
“I used to joke that we were one of the best three minute teams in Class D,” Furler said of the 0-14 season. “We would start strong and then fall apart.”
The difference between last year to this year was staggering. The team bought into Furler’s coaching, and with a lot of patience and practice, the Yellowjackets were able to turn things around.
“Although we had a good season, there is still a lot for us to work on to get better,” Furler explained.
Eldred finished the season with five league wins compared to just three league losses, with two of the losses at the hands of Section IX champion Chapel Field. Their regular season split with Roscoe was another major turning point for the young team.
In their first meeting against the Blue Devils, on the road in Roscoe, the Yellowjackets made a statement win. After the game Furler said, “This is the best game that I’ve seen this team play.”
The Yellowjackets went on to sweep Livingston Manor and Tuxedo in league matches and earn the No. 3 seed in the Section IX Class D tournament.
Starting three freshmen was not Furler’s plans at the beginning of the season, but injuries that had carried over from football season made it a necessity. “I named Sean Furler (senior) and Trai Kaufmann (freshman) captains on our very first practice,” Furler said. “I usually don’t make decisions without asking what they think first. Sean was the first to say ‘Let’s do it,’ because he knew we were trying to develop for the future.”
And develop is what they did.
Furler and the team did not expect the drastic turnaround and success that this season brought, but they are already looking ahead and ready to build on it for next season.
“We would have loved to see how it played out if we didn’t lose Elijah the last four games of the season, but he will be back and better than ever next year. The sky’s the limit for this program.”
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