A tough district schedule spoiled a promising start for a senior-laden Yellow Jacket basketball squad last season.

Stephenville finished 16-15 after struggling through a 4-10 district run to end the season.

Now, as the 2009-10 season gets set to tip off, head coach Mike Dacus will lead a young Jacket squad into the fire.

“Timberview is probably the favorite,” said Dacus. “They have a lot of players back and they went to the state tournament last year. Legacy will be good again, as will Everman and Crowley. Seguin should be like they were. I don't think our district is as strong top to bottom as it was last year, though, so we have a chance to get into the playoffs.”

Leading the charge to the postseason will be returning point guard Justin Lanham, who claimed second team all-district honors last year, and post Cody Stevens, who was an honorable mention honoree .

The tandem will attempt to replace last season's pairing  of 8-4A Offensive MVP Victor Martinez and first team all-district pick Garrett Autrey.

“We're not going to be as quick at the two spot because Victor was a very good player,” said Dacus. “He was quick and his 22 points a game will be hard to pick up. As far as size is concerned, we'll be about the same. We have Stevens and (Josh) Jenkins, who are both about 6-4.”

Lanham posted just under six points and 3.6 assists per contest last season while Stevens tallied 6.8 points and led the Jackets with 152 boards (4.8 per game).

Senior JT Autrey will not be returning to the Yellow Jackets this season. According to Dacus, he will focus on the upcoming baseball season.

Dacus is currently working with a seven-man varsity roster consisting of Lanham, Stevens, Dalton Griffin, Josh Jenkins, Brian Picha, Miles Hostein and freshman Judar Stidham. He expects to add three or four to his roster following the completion of the football season.

Stephenville will tip-off the 2009-10 season tonight when they travel to Azle for an 8 p.m. tip.