By Russ Pankonin
The Imperial Republican
Boys’ basketball coach Carl Zuege will look to his eight seniors for their experience and team leadership this basketball season.
His seniors include returning starters Alex Strand, Tanner Stromberger, Daniel Regier and Kyle Bottom, along with occasional starter Charlie Haarberg.
Shane German, Grant Len-ners and Jakob Burke will join these five in adding depth and experience for the Longhorns.
Zuege will look to juniors Adam Moline and Adam Dickey for added support during the season.
He also looks for junior Steven Fish to contribute once he’s medically cleared to play after suffering a fractured vertebrae during the football season.
Exhibition game gives a look
The Longhorns got some game experience last week, playing an exhibition game against Hitchcock County Tuesday, Nov. 23.
They proved to be the superior team, putting 70 points on the board over 32 minutes, with jayvees playing most of the final quarter.
Fans saw a Longhorn team that pushed the ball up the court much of the night.
“We took what they gave us,” Zuege said.
During summer play, Zuege said they really concentrated on the quality of their shot selections.
He said they’re looking for shots off transition, inside at the post and from screening motion.
When they did that, Zuege said they scored really well. They carried that through to last week’s exhibition game.
Another area of focus will be to correct the free throw imbalance suffered last year.
“We want to shoot more free throws than we give up,” Zuege said. That didn’t happen last year.
Zuege said it’s key for the Longhorns to produce offensively this season.
In addition to improved shot selection, he said they will spread their offense out more to keep defenses from just packing it against them.
He said all of his players have to be willing to step up and shoot, based on better shot selection.
During last week’s exhibition game, the Longhorns had built a 24-10 lead and went on a 16-0 run before half for a 40-10 lead at the break.
Zuege said they bogged down some in the third but rallied back, with jayvees finishing the game.
Season opens tonight
The Longhorns open the season tonight (Thursday) on their home court against Cozad.
Cozad lost a number of players to graduation and will be coming in with a new coach.
Zuege expects Cozad to be young but also expects them to be physical.
Action will begin at 5 p.m. in both the Longhorn and Shorthorn gyms.
Zuege said the varsity girls will play in the Longhorn gym while the jayvee boys play at the same time in the Shorthorn gym.
The boys’ varsity game will follow the girls’ varsity game with the girls’ jayvee game to be played at the same time in the Shorthorn gym.
This same format will be used Friday when the Longhorns travel to McCook with action starting at 5 p.m. MT.
Zuege expects a tough game from McCook. “They’re always tough,” he said.
They have one of the more acclaimed guards in Class B with Connor Larson.
He said the Longhorns will have to take care of the ball and limit McCook to one chance on offense each time down the floor.
Players on this year’s basketball squad include:
Seniors: Kyle Bottom, Jakob Burke, Shane German, Alex Strand, Charlie Haarberg, Daniel Regier, Grant Lenners, Tanner Stromberger.
Juniors: Travis Wheeler, Taylor Gellerman, Steven Fish, Adam Moline, Trevor Oxford, Adam Dickey, Jared Knobbe.
Sophomores: Ethan Haarberg, Kale Gockley, Michael May, Hunter Spady, Callin Ledall, Josue Guillen.
Freshmen: Sam Haarberg, Kevin German, Calen Griffin, Dan Sullivan, Morel Chavez, Tanner Harris, Justus Wallin, Trey Milner, Tyler Oxford.