PERRYDALE — Prior to the start of the boys basketball season, coach Brian Domes wasn’t sure how his team would shape up.
The Pirates’ top two scorers from last season both graduated — leaving some big question marks as to who would step up.
Senior Cooper Butler, junior Dustin Silver and sophomore David Domes have answered the call and are leading Perrydale to a strong start to the 2017-18 season.
Last season, Butler was content to play a supporting role.
“We had Daniel (Domes) and Haylen (Janesofsky),” Butler said. “Haylen was the Casco Player of the Year and could do whatever he wanted down low. They were the ones making the plays, so I was doing anything I could to help us.”
With those two gone, Butler took it upon himself to help fill the void.
“I’m trying to step up take his role,” Butler said. “I want to get people to come down and double team me so I can kick it out to our shooters.”
Brian Domes saw a very different Butler — one who wasn’t afraid to drive to the hoop, bang bodies while boxing out and show a knack for getting to the hoop.
“He’s definitely stepped it up,” Brian Domes said. “He’ll have a burden on his shoulders all year long, but he’s resilient. He plays so great with his fundamentals, if he could shoot from 15 feet, he’s so much quicker than Haylen was last year, you couldn’t stop him.”
Butler is no longer content to playing a supporting role. He’s thriving as the Pirates’ focal point, scoring 29 points in a 71-70 loss to St. Paul on Friday.
“I’ve always thrived on being aggressive and working hard,” Butler said. “That’s a value I’ve always praised. This was a challenge I wanted to take on.”
Silver was a three-point threat for Perrydale last season, shooting 40 percent from beyond the arc. But he’s been forced to discover new aspects of his game this winter.
“My shot wasn’t falling as much, so I started driving,” Silver said. “It started working for me, so I’ve stuck with it.”
Silver’s ability to get to the hoop has given the Pirates another weapon – and once his shot starts falling more consistently, he’ll become a threat that will be difficult for opponents to stop.
“Dustin has been more aggressive,” Butler said. “And he’s worked hard to improve on defense.”
Like Butler and Silver, David Domes was content in a smaller role last season.
“We had five good players in front of me, so I didn’t want to mess anything up,” David Domes said.
David was more worried about not making mistakes than showing the full scope of what he could do.
“He was a little timid I’d say, about driving and shooting,” Butler said.
That is no longer the case as the team’s starting point guard.
“He’s got that hesitation out,” Butler said. “He can drive. He’s not afraid to shoot it.”
If he can take the next step in his evolution, David has the potential to be even more dangerous, Brian Domes said.
“David has done a pretty good job,” Brian Domes said. “We want him to be a little more balanced. Where Cooper can drive and stop on a dime, David is more of, ‘I’m going to drive or shoot, but I can’t drive, jump, stop and pivot.’”
The three have formed the core of the Pirates’ starting five — and will be key to Perrydale’s success.
With a thin rotation — all five players played all 32 minutes against St. Paul — the focus has been on playing smarter and working on building stamina.
“The whole practice, we’re doing drills that may not seem like conditioning, but we’re running up and down the court,” Butler said. “We know we have to work extra hard conditioning-wise because games like (Friday), it’s normal for us not to have a very deep rotation.”
All three players are ready for the challenge of limited bench support to lead the Pirates back to the state playoffs.
“We know a lot is on our backs,” David Domes said. “We just need to overcome it.”