ORIGINALLY WRITTEN DIANE MAYS
The Centre boys’ basketball team will have a little work to do this year to fill the holes that emerged since the end of last season.
“We lost a pretty strong post player last year in Grant Garrard, who was a senior,” said coach Russ Hake, who is in his third season. “That is creating a little problem. His younger brother’s a sophomore who’ll have to step up and fill that spot. He’s about the same size, 6-3 or 6-4.
“We also lost a pretty good guard in Justin Makovec. We’ve got some guys that I think can step up and fill that spot.
“Kyle Luna is a senior this year that didn’t come back out for us. He was a starter for the last two years. He also played a little bit inside.
“Those are some spots that we’re going to have to find people to step up for,” Hake said.
But the Cougars do have some returing players who will add experience to the team.
“Curtis Gutsch is a senior. He was hurt for a lot of the season last year, but he seems to be pretty healthy right now,” Hake said. “He’s going to be a strong guard/first player for us.
“Todd Stahlecker started the last two years. He’s a junior, and is a real strong guard and good shooter-probably our best ball-handler, a quick player.
“Travis Burns was another letterman. He didn’t start last year, but he played quite a bit. He’ll have to work at filling the guard spot.
“Derek Dalton played a limited time last year, but he’s gong to have to step up in guard play and the post area this year,” Hake said.
Centre’s talent extend beyond its upperclassmen, he added.
“We’ve got some freshmen that I think are going to be pretty good,” he said. “Some of the younger players might be smaller than others, but they have good ball-handling skills, while others provide size for the team.
“They’re certainly going to be ready to step up in the next several years,” Hake added.
Quickness will be a team strength this year for the Cougars.
“We’re going to rely a lot on quickness,” Hake said. “We have to be quicker than the other teams because we’re going to be smaller. I think we have some pretty good shooters, and if we play the kind of defense that I think we can, we hopefully can cause other teams a lot of problems with our quickness and our shooting.”
The toughest team to beat in the Eisenhower League this season most likely will be Solomon, according to Hake.
“They seem to have pretty good teams every year. Bennington will be pretty tough. Hope lost a lot of good seniors last year, but I think they’ll still be pretty strong.
“I feel like our league this year is going to be real even. I think there’s a lot of teams that we can beat, but if we don’t watch ourselves we can loose a few, too.”
The preseason tournament at Herington this year will be a good test for Centre, Hake said. The Cougars will play Herington, Hope and Northern Heights.
Even though they play Hope in the tournament, the Cougars will turn around and play them again the following week. Hake said his team is looking forward to playing Hope.
The Cougars open at Southeast of Saline Dec. 6. Game time is at 6 p.m.