When Magnolia takes to the court this season, there will be a big presence missing.

With 6-foot-7 forward Josh Larramendi, the Bulldogs not only had a team leader last season, but they also had a strong rebounder and stout defender.

“We’ll miss his defensive presence at the rim,” coach Derek Cain said in a recent phone interview. “In my opinion, we were the best defensive team in the district, and he was the defensive MVP of the district. We were that way because we were pretty good at the perimeter and had him protecting the rim on the inside. It made it very difficult to score on us, I thought.”

In terms of points allowed, Magnolia only trailed District 19-5A champion College Station as it earned a playoff berth. That playoff berth saw the fourth-seeded Bulldogs take on District 20-5A champion Huntsville, a game Magnolia lost by three points.

“Last year, we had lost all the players from the year before, and we had a rough beginning of the season,” Cain said. “We were struggling to win games and everything, then I think we finally got our legs underneath us right at the start of district, and we started playing our best basketball at the right time. Being in that playoff game and them seeing they had a chance to win, I think that really motivated everybody.”

While graduating Larramendi — and his four fellow classmates — is a loss for Magnolia, Cain says his team in the 2019-20 season will be a deep one.

“We really believe that we’ve got 11 guys that can all contribute, and it could be anybody’s night at any time,” he said. “It’s not going to be a one-man show. We’re going to spread the ball around, and we have guys all over the place that can shoot just as good as the next guy. They have the ability to score, run the offense and play defense all together.”

Leading the way will be captains Lawson Lowery and Connor Lindvall.

Lowery, a 6-foot-5 forward, led the Bulldogs in scoring in their playoff loss to Huntsville.

“Ever since that game, it’s kind of propelled him into being a lot more confident and dominant all spring and summer and so far this year, as well,” Cain said. “He’s a senior captain, and he’s gotten really strong, and his skills have gotten a lot better. He’s kind of realizing he can be a dominant player.”

Lindvall, a junior, started every game last season and returns for another year at guard. Also back are point guard Andrew Bauer and guard Jordan Ratliff, who Cain says will be a key player on the defensive side of the court.

Hezekiah Livings, a 6-foot-6 senior, could bring some explosiveness and flare to the Bulldogs’ game.

“I’ve got a video of him dunking from one step inside the free-throw line,” Cain said of Livings. “This kid is an insane athlete in a lot of ways. He gives us a pretty dynamic piece to the puzzle, and he’s starting to commit a little bit to the defensive end and be better there. His skills are getting better offensively, but as far as athleticism, he really gives us another dimension that we haven’t had here.”

Magnolia will once again aim for a postseason berth out of District 19-5A. A year ago, the Bulldogs were winless in district play against their fellow playoff teams — College Station, Bryan Rudder and A&M Consolidated. Cain says the hope this year is to not only close that gap, but also compete for the district’s top spot.

“Our goal and what we work for is to win championships,” he said. “We’re looking to win a district championship, and that’s what we’re working for every day. We know that’s a tough road ahead of us, but we think we definitely have the ability to do it, and we’ve been working hard enough to see that happen as well.”


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