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Pam Pack boys-deep and experienced

If they’ve waited this long, they might as well dive right in.

The Pam Pack boys will start at the top of the 2A Eastern Carolina Conference as they host the powerhouse Kinston Vikings Wednesday night in the season opener for both teams.

Washington returns seven seniors from last year’s 18-9 squad that lost to eventual East champion Farmville Central in the second round. Three more seniors have transferred in and two juniors return, giving second-year head David Allewalt a deep, experienced group that expects to be around at the end of this shortened season.

“We have to be on our game every night, because we are playing 14 instead of 24,” Allewalt said. “That’s why it’s fine to play Kinston first. There’s no such thing as a non-conference schedule this year, so we’re excited to host them and get things started.”

Senior Omarion Blount is the Pam Pack’s leading returning scorer at 19 points a game, while Jamauri Bryant averaged 14. Newcomers Gunner Couch and Matt Van Staalduinen were 1,000 point career scorers at Terri Ceia while Jack Kirkman was the same at Unity Christian.

“All three want to challenge themselves against better competition and they can do that here,” Allewalt said. “All three will give us more options on offense and make us deeper. Usually, it’s tough to find enough playing time for 10 seniors but wearing the masks will lead to more substitutions just to give guys a chance to catch their breath. It’s the perfect year to have this much experience.”

Joel Gardner, Jaden Hambric, Justus Biggs, Juan Rosario and Jeremee Bryant are the other seniors. Jeremee (Jamauri’s twin) missed all of the last season after tearing his ACL. Juniors Terry Moore, Messiah Ebron and Ashton Woolard complete the roster.

Allewalt took over a team that finished 6-15 two years ago and tripled the victory total a year later. Northside transfer Rashod Smith helped ease the transition by averaging just under 21 points a game. He’s playing at Pitt Community College this year.

“We had to change the culture here and I think we did,” Allewalt said. “We provided more structure for the players on and off the floor and held them accountable. The guys bought into our system and they tasted success which makes them hungry for more. We’re bigger, stronger and more experienced, but know we have our work cut out for us.”

The Pam Pack fell to the Vikings last year, 73-70 in Kinston, 79-67 at home for two of their three league losses, and 66-53 in the conference title game played on a neutral floor at Ayden-Grifton HS. The Vikings lose eight seniors from that team but return one of the top 60 players in the country in 6’7 senior Dontrez Styles, who has signed with UNC.

“Google him and you’ll find out all about him,” laughed Allewalt. “He is very talented, and Kinston always poses a huge challenge. They have been the heavyweight in whatever conference they are in for a long time and it can be a bit intimidating to play the name on the jersey instead of focusing on the player who is wearing it. We played them very close at their place and our guys gained confidence from it. “We have high expectations and they always do, so it should be a fun game.”

There is a state mandated limit of 25 fans allowed in Wednesday and players families have first priority. Washington High School officials say there won’t be any tickets sold.