With three starters and four letter-winners returning from last season’s 11-11 squad, look for the Goessel Bluebird boys to soar above sea level this winter.
Even with three starters back, coach Justin Coup said this year’s rendition will have a very different look.
“This group will be completely different than any team we have had,” said Coup, who is in his 13th season at the helm. “We will be very deep at the guard/forward position. Our quickness and ability to handle the ball is a definite asset as we head into the season.”
But Coup is concerned about his team’s inside play.
“Our inside presence could be a weakness and our ability to get to the boards,” he said. “We must be very focused on those two areas as we begin practice.”
Coup’s three returning starters are Neal Brubacher, a 6-foot, 1-inch senior who averaged 4.4 points and 2.6 assists last year; Braden Unruh, a 6-0 junior who averaged 8.8 points and 2.4 assists; and sophomore Trey Schmidt, who averaged 3.1 points and 1.9 assists as a freshman.
Cory Buller, a 6-2 senior, averaged 5.6 points during his letter-winning junior season.
On his roster of 31 players, Coup’s top newcomers include two seniors, Jake Smucker (5-10) and John Berkholz (5-11), and two sophomores, Davis Cook (6-5) and Nic Buller (5-11).
“Our depth will be an advantage with many combinations available to put on the floor,” Coup said. “Finding the right group to accept their roles and do their jobs will be vital to our success.”
The team will be competing in a new league and class division this season. The Bluebirds join Hope, Little River, Centre, Elyria Christian, Peabody-Burns, Solomon, Wakefield and White City in the newly formed Wheat State League.
They will compete in the post-season in the newly created Division 1 in two-division Class 1A. Last season, Goessel lost to eventual state champion Olpe in the sub-state semifinals.
Coup predicts a dogfight for the WSL title.
“It should be wide open,” he said. “Actually all nine (teams) should be competing for the top spot with not one clear favorite.”
Goessel will open the season with a game Friday at Chase County. Then the Bluebirds will host the six-team Bluebird Classic Dec. 6-11.
The boys will make their first tournament appearance in Pool A at 8:30 p.m. Tuesday versus Hutchinson Central Christian in the high school gym. The other team in the pool is Burrton, which the Bluebirds play Friday at 8:30 p.m.
Elyria, Canton-Galva and Little River comprise Pool B.
The finals are set for Saturday based on pool-play results.