After missing the playoffs last year for the first time in Head Coach Braydon Barker’s tenure, the Pampa Hustlin’ Harvesters are looking to return to playoffs in 2021-22 with six returning starters: Senior Cason Floyd (four-year varsity, three-year starter, All-District), Senior Hunter Nichols, Senior Troy Perez (All-District), Senior Hunter Dyer, Junior Huston Skinner and Junior Chris St. Cyr.
The experience on this squad is a far-cry from last year’s team, who only had one returning starter.
“Last year Cason was my only player who had a minute of varsity experience,” Barker said. “We were in almost every game, we just couldn’t close games. We were in a lot of close games. We played with good teams, leading Canyon at half and leading Hereford at half; inexperience just kind of took over.”
Barker added missing the playoffs for the first time in his career in Pampa has added some extra motivation for this year’s team.
Pampa opened with a scrimmage on Thursday at Randall, but the full schedule includes match-ups at Dalhart (Nov. 20), at Plainview (Nov. 22), vs. Childress (Nov. 30) and Senior Night against Fritch (Dec. 17).
“We’re playing some of the smaller schools but there is strong basketball tradition at some of these places,” Barker said. “Childress has been to the regional tournament two of the last three years, Gruver was at the State Tournament two years ago, etc. We have a good mixture. We are playing Plainview, a 5A school.”
Pampa will also be going to the Jacksboro Tournament (Dec. 9-11) and Elk City Shootout (Dec. 3-4).
Looking ahead to Pampa’s District (Borger, Perryton, Canyon, Hereford, Dumas), Barker said many polls have Canyon as the favorite.
“Canyon has several returners with two big posts,” Barker said. “They lost their guard play but they are picked to win District by TABC (Texas Association of Basketball Coaches). Hereford had a lot of seniors last year, but their JV was pretty good. Our JV was pretty good, too.
Perryton has a new coach and lost their two big guys. Dumas has everybody back and didn’t lose one senior. For Borger, this is the class they’ve been waiting on. I think the District will be wide-open. Any team can beat any one on any given night.”
The atmosphere in the District games will not be unfamiliar to many of the Harvesters this year.
“The atmosphere is way different than playing at 4:30 p.m. or the Cav, the playing time is good and getting more comfortable with the atmosphere and a close game (will be huge),” Barker said. “It’s a big difference playing in front of a lot of fans instead of just their parents. We gained a lot of experience in that.”
Every District game will be live-streamed, as well every non-district home game.
Tentatively, the Harvesters first home game will be against Gruver on Nov. 23 at 6:30 p.m.