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Patrick Barden Coppell senior Patrick Barden shoots a free throw after practice. Barden is one of the few seniors on a young Coppell team, which has a lot to prove in District 5-5A this season. (Photo by John Loop.)

By John Loop, BubbleLife Intern

This time of year, as people walk past the gym at Coppell High School, they may hear the audible sound of balls dribbling and nets swishing. The boys and girls basketball seasons have officially started, and the teams are ready to show what they are made of.

I recently had the privilege of sitting down with senior post Patrick Barden, who will be playing on the CHS varsity squad for his second year in a row. Barden and the rest of the team will have to replace a good number of graduated seniors, most notably forward Jett Raines, who is beginning his freshman year at Pepperdine Unversity in Malibu, Calif. I asked Patrick for his thoughts on the offseason, the upcoming season and his high school basketball career in general.

What was offseason conditioning like?

"Offseason was very tough this year. Coach Pehl and the coaching staff wanted us to be in the best shape possible, and they did that. I believe that we are in the best shape that we have ever been in. The offseason conditioning included running lines, working on our basketball skills and weightlifting training."

How has the team dealt with the transition from Coach Chasteen to Coach Pehl?

"I felt like the team transitioned well from Coach Chasteen to Coach Pehl. As a whole, we were very positive with the new coaching change, and we were exciting to experience a new style of playing. Coach Pehl knows what it takes to win, and we are ready to do that."

The team has gotten a lot younger this year. How have you, as one of the few returning seniors on the team, contributed to the chemistry of the team?

"This year’s team is younger and has less experienced from previous teams in the past. However, I believe we are up to the challenge. I, along with other seniors, have contributed to the team’s chemistry by showing leadership and by bonding with the team."

Give me a short-but-sweet preview of District 5-5A this year.

"This will be a tough district. Flower Mound Marcus will have a lot to prove after winning state last year and losing a lot of key guys. Flower Mound High has some key guys that can put them in good position for the playoffs. I do not know much about Denton Ryan other than they are our competition, and we need to evaluate them carefully. Lewisville is very athletic with great players. Hebron will be our toughest challenge in district this year, but I believe we will be ready for them."

You personally are stepping into the position filled by Jett Raines, now a freshman at Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., last year. What is it like to fill the role of a player as great as Jett?

"Well no one can replace a guy like Jett Raines. He is a great player, and Pepperdine is lucky to have him. I will try my best to fill that post position, which Jett played, the best I can and produce to the best of my abilities. I will do whatever it takes to help our team win."

What has it been like playing Coppell basketball for half of your high school career?

"Playing for the Coppell basketball program has been a blessing for me. It has given me so many opportunities and life lessons to make me a better player and an even better person. However this program is used to winning, so there is a lot of pressure. I have enjoyed every minute of playing for the Coppell basketball program."

What events is the team planning to take part in off the court this season to showcase the face of the program in the community?

"As a team, we have several fundraisers to be a part of the community like 'Junks for Dunks,' which is a garage sale and the shoot-a-thon. We might be involved in other community services activities, but I am not aware of those at the moment."

What is the team’s motto this year? How do you think it will affect the team’s play on the court?

"We do not have a team motto this year, but Coach Pehl likes to say this to get our team motivated: 'Embrace the Grind.' This is a great quote said by our coach. I believe that this quote will get our team to be excited about basketball, knowing that it is a long season but that we have to give 110-percent effort in order to be successful."

Which of the newcomers has impressed you the most? Why?

"Each player has something to offer to make our team better. (Every) newcomer has a role and will be a big part of our team this year. I believe that every newcomer will help us win, and I am excited for that. Each team is different and our guys, especially our newcomers, will add something positive to our team."