With the numbers in the Hornets' favor, an up-tick season could be winding around for Haines City.

LAKE WALES — With the numbers in the Hornets' favor, an up-tick season could be winding around for Haines City.

Coming off a tough 7-19 season, Haines City is only losing two key players — points guards Jason Tisdale and Victor Rios — from its core lineup and has nine returning varsity players.

“It’s going to sting a little bit but we have a couple of guys, Tyrik Williams and Demetrius Smith, that should be able to fill their spot,” Haines City head coach Greg Pritchett said. “Tyrik is really a driver and slashing-type player, and Demetrius is more of a floor general who can control the pace of the game real well. They both shoot the 3-pointer real well and handle the ball pretty good. In that aspect, we should be better.”

Now, heading into the second week of the East Polk summer league basketball schedule, Pritchett has the Hornets focusing mainly on improving the rebounding aspect of their game.

“The last couple of years rebounding has been really hurting us," Pritchett said. "We have been good on the initial part of defense but we have not been able to rebound the ball. That is the key. We are working on our boxing out and our box-out assignments. Everyone should be returning to get their guy. We didn’t do that very well last year, so we have been working on it since the season’s end. Hopefully, we will get better.”

The Hornets, 0-2 heading into Tuesday night’s game against Lake Wales, have no newcomers reporting and will pull two players up from junior varsity to fill out the departures of Rios and Tisdale.

“It is going to be hard for them to crack the lineup because we have nine seasoned seniors," Pritchett said. "A lot of them have started and many were the next-guy in line to play. It will be interesting. We are expecting big things from them. But expectations are always high. It will depend on how well we play and rebound. Last year, we played 12 playoff teams on our schedule. It was a brutal schedule and it will be the same this year. We will see where the chips fall.”

Among the nine seniors working heavily on rebounding drills this summere are Elijah McClain, Tahir Williams and Amari Campbell.

McClain, who shuffles back and forth between center and small forward, said he is working to increase his speed in order to snag more rebounds.

“We just have to box out more and stay on the bodies. It is just all hard work,” McClain said.

Tahir Williams, 17, a shooting guard and small forward, said he is getting better at running down 50-50 loose balls coming of the glass because of the relentless rebounding drills this summer.

“We are doing a lot of rebounding with two lines and two people shooting. We have to run up to them, box out and get that rebound. We are practicing two to three hours at a time to improve,” Williams said. “I just want to get better as a player and improve my basketball IQ and shooting.”

Campbell, a shooting guard, said when he is not running the floor in the gym, he is in the weight room getting his rebounding legs stronger.

“I’ve been in the gym doing a lot of box out drills but I’ve also been doing a lot of squats and dead-lifts to improve my strength and become a better rebounder," he said. "I have to get my legs stronger so I can jump higher this year."