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New coach, new season, same expectations for Mott-Regent

Press File Photo Mott-Regent senior Tyler Zentner, right, jumps past a pair of Heart River defenders during last year’s District 13 championship on Feb. 18 at Knights of Columbus Activities Center.

For the past two seasons, the Mott-Regent boys basketball team has been right in the midst of contending for a Region 7 title.

Despite graduating four seniors from last season, including Region 7’s top scorer — Taylor Zentner, who averaged 21.5 points per game — the Wildfire are looking to return to the postseason and make some noise.

“We’re just going to take it one game at a time,” Mott-Regent first-year head coach Nate Zachmann said. “Obviously, we have our team goals and individual goals. The team goal is to win every game and never think you are out place for any game. Any team can be beaten on any given night.

“Hopefully as the season gets longer and toward the end, we are there in a spot for a fighting chance.”

Though Zachmann is in his first year as Mott-Regent’s head coach, he is familiar with the team. He served as its assistant coach under Wayne Heckaman the past two seasons. While Zachmann was an assistant coach for the Wildfire, he was also finishing up his degree and football career at Dickinson State.

“Wayne had the opportunity to take an administration position at the high school (principal). That’s where the opportunity (came) for me to slide one seat over and take over as head coach,” he said. “I just want to thank the Mott-Regent school board, parents and community for allowing me to coach their boys.”

The Wildfire return multiple players who saw quality playing time last year, including 6-foot-3, senior guard Tyler Zentner — the younger brother of Taylor.

Tyler Zentner averaged 13.7 points per game last season. Zachmann said Zentner possess different abilities on the court.

“(Tyler) can flat out play ball,” Zachmann said. “He has the street-ball skills, but then he can idle that down and play fundamentally sound. Taylor was definitely our go-to player last year and Tyler kind of took the back seat. It’s really fun to see Tyler step up in a leadership role. He can score from anywhere. He can rebound and defend. I’m going to let his athleticism and his basketball skills kind of takeover. One thing as a coach I can’t do is restrict that from him and just let him go out and play ball.”

The Wildfire also return seniors James Warner (5-10, forward), Benjamin Friedt (6-0, center) and Austin Kautzman (5-8, guard). The remainder of Mott-Regent’s lineup includes four sophomores and six freshmen.

The sophomores are Carter Honeyman (6-0, forward), Chance Roth (5-9, guard), Brett Messmer (6-4, forward) and Brodie Ambers (5-11, forward). The freshmen are Brady Wegh (6-1, guard), Dylan Ambers (6-0, center), Jordan Peterson (5-6, guard), Levi Keator (5-8, guard), Sean Hertz (5-11, forward) and Michael Mayer (5-11, forward).

The Wildfire finished with a 16-8 overall record last season.

Mott-Regent averaged 63.1 points per game and allowed 56.2. The Wildfire lost to Heart River during the District 13 championship but turned around to defeat the Cougars for third place in the Region 7 Tournament.

Zachmann — like many coaches in Region 7 — is pleased with the new tournament format. Region 7 is now a super-regional after doing away with the District 13 and 14 Tournaments.

“I like the super-region, because toward the end of the year it has the Sweet 16, Elite 8, Final Four feel to it like the NCAA Tournament,” he said. “The regular season will be a lot different. When we would play Beulah, Hazen and Dickinson Trinity games in the past, those were technically nonconference games, but now those games are huge for rankings and seeding.”