Despite losing five starters off their state championship team a year ago, Guy-Perkins’ boys are expected to be among the best in Class A.

The Thunderbirds (1-3) got off to a rocky start this season, dropping their first three games against teams that could be playing for a conference championship in their respective leagues. Guy-Perkins recorded its first victory of the season in a win over Scranton on Tuesday.

"I am a little disappointed with the way we’ve started the season," Hutchcraft said. "Even though we lost those five starters last year, we have five guys who played a lot and are used to the game atmosphere. Hopefully, we got a lot of stuff corrected Tuesday night against Scranton."

Hutchcraft uses a six-man rotation for the starting positions. Denell Henderson, Bryan Hooten, Brandon Rooney, Coney Maltbia, Alex Davis and Bradley Holbrook are in the rotation, and each has been called upon to contribute greatly.

"We still have the same fast-tempo style, with scoring a lot, but our defense has been weak," Hutchcraft said. 

"Those first three games were against three good teams. I didn’t expect us to be that strong in the beginning of the season, but by the end we will be a contender for a state championship. It’s OK to lose games in October and November, but it’s not in March."

According to Hutchcraft, the strengths for his team are the size in the frontcourt and quickness in the backcourt.

"We’re one of the biggest teams in Class A," Hutchcraft said. "We’re strong inside. We have all the ingredients for a state championship team. We just don’t have the chemistry right now."

Year-after-year, the Thunderbirds play one of the toughest non-conference schedules in Class A. Guy-Perkins will be playing in Little Rock’s biggest tournament during Christmas break, Jammin’ for Jackets. Batesville, Midland and J.A. Fair are the opponents for that tournament.

"I think that’s our first time playing Batesville. J.A. Fair always has a good team," Hutchcraft said. 

"We’re playing St. Joseph twice, once down there and once up here. We haven’t played them like that in several years. St. Joseph is always tough. Last year we won it all with nine losses. It don’t hurt to lose games early. You always have to match teams that are better than you, so it’ll make you better. Some of our state championship teams have lost seven, eight, nine or 10 games because of the teams that we played in non-conference. You gotta pay the price."

GIRLS

The Lady Thunderbirds (2-2) are ready to see the Class A state tournament this season after their absence in the spring.

For the first time in years, Guy-Perkins girls just missed the state tournament last season. However, things are expected to turn out a little differently this season.

"I’m satisfied with the girls right now," Hutchcraft said. "Scranton won a state championship last spring and we lost to them in a close game on Tuesday. Our strength is our outside shooting. We should have a good team and we’re excited about the year."

The Lady Thunderbirds’ Lanie Laggasie is the leading scorer from a year ago. Amy Smith, Allison McClusky, Brooklyn Hartwick and Lyndsey McGee are the other starters.

"Our size may be a weakness," Hutchcraft said. "Amy Smith does a great job inside, but she’s only 5-7. Scranton had taller girls, so they were able to take advantage of our size inside."

Guy-Perkins’ other loss came at St. Joseph last week, but the two wins came against Greers Ferry West Side and Marmuduke.

Guy-Perkins hosts Sacred Heart on Friday, starting with the junior high girls game at 5:30 p.m., and the high school games immediately following.