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Once the young gun, now the old pro

Junior guard Sam Werkenthin takes on a new, expanded role in his second year on varsity team

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Once the young gun, now the old pro

Junior Sam Werkenthin sets up a shot during McCallum’s 56-47 loss to Hays on Nov. 13 at home. Shooting is something Werkenthin has done a lot of this year as he is one of only two returning players from last year’s varsity team. “This year my role has definitely changed. Since me and Norman are the only [players] who have experience playing varsity, [my role is to be] a scorer and a leader.” Photo by Risa Darlington-Horta.

Junior Sam Werkenthin sets up a shot during McCallum’s 56-47 loss to Hays on Nov. 13 at home. Shooting is something Werkenthin has done a lot of this year as he is one of only two returning players from last year’s varsity team. “This year my role has definitely changed. Since me and Norman are the only [players] who have experience playing varsity, [my role is to be] a scorer and a leader.” Photo by Risa Darlington-Horta.

Risa Darlington-Horta

Junior Sam Werkenthin sets up a shot during McCallum’s 56-47 loss to Hays on Nov. 13 at home. Shooting is something Werkenthin has done a lot of this year as he is one of only two returning players from last year’s varsity team. “This year my role has definitely changed. Since me and Norman are the only [players] who have experience playing varsity, [my role is to be] a scorer and a leader.” Photo by Risa Darlington-Horta.

Risa Darlington-Horta

Risa Darlington-Horta

Junior Sam Werkenthin sets up a shot during McCallum’s 56-47 loss to Hays on Nov. 13 at home. Shooting is something Werkenthin has done a lot of this year as he is one of only two returning players from last year’s varsity team. “This year my role has definitely changed. Since me and Norman are the only [players] who have experience playing varsity, [my role is to be] a scorer and a leader.” Photo by Risa Darlington-Horta.

Steven Tibbetts, online co-editor in chief

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Last year, Sam Werkenthin was the only sophomore on McCallum’s varsity boys basketball team. Despite being the youngest player on the team, Werkenthin improved a lot and says that he learned a lot from the more experienced players on that team.

Annabel Winter
Werkenthin led the varsity boys basketball team with 15 points and three blocked shots in the team’s season opener at Georgetown on Nov. 9, but the host Georgetown Eagles prevailed, 62-48. Photo by Annabel Winter.

This year, the junior guard is one of only two returning players from last year’s varsity team, with senior forward Norman Boyd being the other. Being one of only two veterans has forced Werkenthin into a different role on the team than he had the year before.

“Last year I was the only sophomore on the team, and it was just a team full of seniors, so I had to learn from them, and now this year my role has definitely changed,” Werkenthin said. “Since me and Norman are the only ones who have experience playing varsity, [my role is to be] a scorer and a leader.”

Boyd agrees that Werkenthin’s primary job on the team is to score, and he also believes that Werkenthin has done a good job doing it.

“He is a reliable scorer,” Boyd said.

Werkenthin’s long journey playing basketball first started about 10 years ago when his mom convinced him to play the sport.

Sam is a reliable scorer. We have good chemistry because I’ve known him for a long time.”

— Senior forward Norman Boyd

“My mom played basketball in high school,” Werkenthin said. “I always had a ball in my hands when I was a kid, so she wanted me to get into basketball.”

Werkenthin may have started playing basketball because of his mom’s advice, but he continued to play because he loved, and still loves, to be a part of a team.

“I enjoy the team spirit and that you can’t do everything by yourself,” Werkenthin said.

Werkenthin says that he also enjoys the work it takes to improve at basketball, which is something former McCallum Knight basketball player Kenny Hall said Werkenthin did a lot of last year.

“You got to put in a lot of work to be good at it, and you can’t cheat your way through it,” Werkenthin said.

Werkenthin hopes that this hard work can help him achieve an individual goal this season.

My mom played basketball in high school. I always had a ball in my hands when I was a kid, so she wanted me to get into basketball.”

— Junior guard Sam Werkenthin

“I’m trying to get either second or third team all-district,” Werkenthin said.

Werkenthin said at the start of this season, however, that he was looking forward to playing with the two seniors on the team for the last time more than he was looking forward to achieving his personal goals.

“[I’m looking forward to] playing with Norman and Andrew [Alvarez] for the last year because I’ve played with them since my freshman year,” Werkenthin said.

Boyd says that over the years, he and Werkenthin have gotten good at playing together.

“We have good chemistry because I’ve known him for a long time,” Boyd said.

Werkenthin hopes to extend the time he gets to play with Boyd and Alvarez by helping the Knights qualify for the 5A state playoffs, something last year’s team was unable to do.

“This year, I want to make playoffs at least. That’s the lowest expectation,” Werkenthin said. “I want to win district. I feel like we have a pretty good shot this year.”

Anna Bausman
Werkenthin attempts to dribble past a St. Andrew’s defender during McCallum’s 40-28 win on Nov. 19. Werkenthin’s ability to dribble with his left hand is something that senior forward Norman Boyd says Werkenthin has improved on a lot since joining the varsity team last year. Photo by Anna Bausman.

So far, Werkenthin and the Knights have proven that they are legitimate contenders to at least finish in the top four finishers in district and thus earn a playoff berth. According to MaxPreps, the Knights currently have the fifth best ranking out of the eight teams in District 25-5A, behind Reagan, LBJ, Dripping Springs and Lockhart. The Knights have reason to believe, however, that they can outperform those expectations. McCallum beat Bastrop 73-65 on Nov. 20 less than a week before Lockhart lost to Bastrop, 70-66. The Knights have also had a comparable result with Reagan, the top ranked District 25-5A team. The Knights beat St. Andrew’s by 12 on Nov. 19 by a score of 40-28, while the Raiders beat St. Andrew’s by 17 the next day, 72-55. The Knights’ results against common opponents suggest that they can compete with the top teams in the district.

The team kicked off its 25-5A district schedule with a 79-44 dismantling of host Crockett on Thursday Dec. 20. It was a complete victory on both sides of the court. Five Knights combined to make nine 3-pointers, and the Knights also found offensive success in the paint.

I want to make playoffs at least. That’s the lowest expectation. I want to win district. I feel like we have a pretty good shot this year.”

— Junior guard Sam Werkenthin

On defense, the Knights deployed a halfcourt press that disrupted the Cougar offensive the entire game. Werkenthin was among the high scorers for the Knights. Boyd the team with 33 points, while Werkenthin added 13 and Takai Satberry, 12.

The team went 3-2 most recently at the Hays Rebel Classic, and Werkenthin was a key factor in the Knights’ three wins, scoring 24, 20 and 15 in the Knights’ victories over San Antonio Kipp University Prep, Wimberley and Houston Stafford.

After winning their district opener, the Knights hope to continue their winning ways when they play at Reagan on Jan. 2 and when they host Travis on Jan. 4

Werkenthin’s final goal for the team, though, cannot be measured solely by wins and losses.

“I want to see the team grow,” he said.

If that happens, the rest of Werkenthin’s hopes for a district title and a playoff win are well within the team’s reach.

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1 Comment

One Response to “Once the young gun, now the old pro”

  1. lukas bednar on January 11th, 2019 9:59 am

    I think the reporter asked really good questions for the interview. I like how they got Sam to talk about his role as a leader.

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Once the young gun, now the old pro