Cougar boys regroup amid tough Eisenhower League

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After posting an 8-13 overall record but going 4-2 in league play, the Cougars have five seniors and letter-winners returning this year. They are: back row (from left), Zach Slayden, James Weber, Michael Kaiser; front row, Ben Krause and Bryant Brunner. Andrew Ottoson / Free Press

In his second season coaching boys? basketball at Centre High School, Cody Schafer is looking at an Eisenhower League full of parity with a sense of opportunity.

But having lost the bulk of their scoring and four starters to graduation, the Cougars face an uphill climb.

Alongside Bryant Brunner, who Schafer described as ?by far our best defender last year,? letter-winners James Weber, Zach Slayden and Ben Krause will step into starting roles.

Weber?s 6-foot, 3-inch frame will give the Cougars a significant advantage in the paint?and his skills have improved markedly in the off-season.

?Our post play will be a big part of our offense this year,? Schafer said. ?Weber has honed his game in the off-season and looks better than ever. We look for him to have a great year.?

Weber averaged over 8 points, nearly four rebounds and one assist per game as a sophomore.

Brunner, a 5-11 guard, will anchor an experienced group of guards.

?He brings a lot to the table for us on the defensive end of the floor,? Schafer said. ?On the offensive end he needs to produce more for us.?

Slayden is a 6-0 senior and will be expected to improve on the 4 points and two assists per game averages he posted in limited action last year.

Krause, a 5-10 junior, is also likely to see his stats improve with more playing time.

?With three guards returning with experience, we should have plenty of leadership on the floor at all times,? Schafer said. ?All three have improved from last year, and they look ready for a big year.?

The above four will be joined by 6-3 sophomore Trevor Troutt and 6-0 junior Konley Harding.

?Troutt is a big wide body who will help us inside,? Schafer said.

?Harding has matured tremendously in the off-season and should figure into our rotation,? he added. ?We also have a very strong freshman class coming in this year, and some may push for playing time.?

With a strong group of incoming players, Schafer?s team is primed to take a few steps forward?and for the possibility that those strides may not show up in the standings immediately.

?The league should be balanced this year with the exception of White City?they look like the front runner for a league title this year,? Schafer said. ?All of the teams in our league are well-coached and come ready to play each and every night.

?Hopefully, we will be able to compete with everyone.?

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