ORIGINALLY WRITTEN ERIC CLARK
Led by four seniors and a host of juniors, the Marion Warriors boys’ basketball team is optimistic about improving on last season’s 13-9 record, according to coach Chris Moddlemog.
“I think we’re going to be pretty good,” Moddlemog said. “We have players who have been in our program for four years, and I think that is going to pay off. Fundamentally we are pretty sound, and this will be a key if we can execute well on offense.”
Last season, Marion produced an impressive 8-2 record in the Cottonwood Valley League.
The Warriors return only two players who have significant playing experience.
Braxton Skiles, a 6-2 senior, and an All-CVL forward last season, will anchor the Warrior offense.
“Braxton is probably our key player,” Skiles said. “He’s a good player and we’ll look for him to be a key contributor.”
Robert Verbic, a 5-9 senior, will play the off-guard position, Moddlemog said.
“Braxton and Robert are our two main returners coming back,” he said.
Alan Vogel, a 6-4 junior, will be the Warriors’ Windex man, cleaning rebounds off the glass.
“Alan is our biggest kid and he’ll help us rebounding,” Moddlemog said. “He can also score well inside.”
One of Moddlemog’s concerns this season is the Warriors’ ability to score. The Warriors lost most of their offense to graduation last year.
“Our scoring is a question mark,” Moddlemog said. “I’m not sure where our scoring is going to come from.”
Lack of size is another concern.
“We don’t have great size,” Moddlemog said. “But, hopefully, we can overcome that with quickness and depth. Some players will need to step up early in the season and prove they can share some of the scoring load.”
Jason Matz, a 6-2 junior, and Brian Bina, a 6-0 junior, will also be important contributors for the Warriors, according to Moddelmog.
Last season, Marion relied on a half-court system. This season, Moddlemog wants to pick up the pace on both offense and defense.
“Last year we were a half-court offense,” Moddlemog said. “This year, I would like to push it a little bit more and pressure teams more. If we have to go to a half-court set, I’m really confident we can be successful at it.”
Moddlemog is entering his fifth year as a high school head coach. He coached two years at Peabody-Burns High School before taking the head position at Marion.
He credits much of his coaching techniques to his time as a player at Moundridge High School.
“Moundridge basketball really had an impact on me,” Moddlemog said. “We haven’t been quite as successful as Moundridge, but we also haven’t had the players that they have had over the years. The drills we run in practice are similar to how they run it, and our defensive philosiphies are very similar.”
The Warriors open their season Friday night at home against their neighbors from Hillsboro High School. The boys’ varsity will play at 8 p.m.