Timing was not kind to the Dallas boys basketball team this season.
The Mountaineers moved up from Division 2 to Division 1 as part of Wyoming Valley Conference realignment just as graduation forced them to replace the entire starting lineup from a championship team.
That combination has made for a difficult season, but one in which coach Doug Miller has seen the promise of better times ahead.
We are so young this year, Miller said. There have been times when we've played our best basketball with four sophomores and a freshman on the court.
That's a good thing for down the line, but it's not always the best for right now.
With District 2's return to open tournaments this year, Dallas moved into playoff action after completing the regular season Thursday night at Wyoming Valley West.
District playoffs will be a new experience for all but leading scorer Matt Ross, the only Mountaineer remaining who appeared in a tournament game last year.
It's going to be a totally new experience for pretty much the entire team, Miller said.
It will also be an important experience if the Mountaineers eventually make the improvement their coach anticipates.
We're talking next year that we're going to be much more competitive, he said, and I think we're looking two years from now where we really want to compete for league and district titles.
Everything we're doing this year, we're trying to help with that.
The Mountaineers entered Friday night just 1-10 in the division and 2-17 overall.
Their youngest player, 14-year-old freshman Suk Mathon, played a big role in one of those wins with 12 points and 13 rebounds in a holiday tournament game against Wyoming Area.
He's 14 years old and he's playing against 17 and 18 year olds, Miller said of the 6-foot-7 center. That's a huge maturity and experience difference.
There's a very high ceiling for his talent.
Mathon leads the team with 7.5 rebounds per game while also averaging 5.5 points.
Ross, a sophomore, leads in scoring with 14.5 points.
Allen Fell, another sophomore who has been sidelined by a leg injury, is second in both categories with 8.7 points and 5.6 rebounds per game.
They are three of the reasons Miller is hopeful about the future.
We spend a lot of time talking about the future, Miller said. Other coaches and people who have been around the game see that we're making progress and getting better.
We're staying positive and the kids' attitudes have been very good this year, despite the record. The kids continue to work hard every day.
In the process, they are helping convince their coach that better days remain ahead.