The Mott-Regent boys basketball team was not the best team last year, but they earned the respect throughout Region 7 and the state. This season, the boys will have some major expectations if they want to get to where they were last season.

The Mott-Regent boys basketball team had to adjust to a new coach in Pat Perkins last season, but adjusted very well. The team went on a powerful run at the end of the 2018-19 season, starting the Region 7 tournament with a bye. However, a loss to Hazen High School in the second round ended the team’s chances of going to state. This year, the beginning may be difficult, but the ending could be interesting.

“The coaches in our region have (placed) us about 10th, which is really where we’d like to be, because when your ranked 10th all you can do is move up,” Perkins said. “We’re inexperienced and we’re young, but there’s some really good talent, and if these guys buy into the coaching philosophy … and work hard, by midseason we’ll be in probably the best form and on our way up.”

The Wildfire will have to fill a major void in the loss of athlete Cody Perkins, the 2019 Region 7 Senior Athlete of the Year and also selected to the All-State basketball team, as well as Asad Watson-Buffalo, Teddy Mayer and Isaac Frey.

The team will be relying on junior guard Caleb Candrian, a key contributor to last season’s success and potentially the team’s most experienced varsity player, and forwards Ryan Doe and Jayden Hauck. Doe is an athlete that does well in the post and has a very strong basketball IQ. Perkins also mentioned junior forward Logan Lutz will be one of the team’s potential major assets this season and is excited to see what he can bring to the team throughout this season.

As for seniors, the team will be relying on forward Jayden Hauck, an offensive-heavy type of player, a player that is able to create space from his defender and get his points from shooting or by attacking the bucket. Along with Hauck is Rayce Kovar, he will share more time at the point guard position this season, and may spend some time in the forward slot because of his frame. He is a strong team leader and influencer on the court.

For strengths Perkins is happy that the team is able to score in a variety of ways, whether it is shooting the ball or getting the ball inside and attempting to get fouled and gain points from the free-throw line.

As for weaknesses, the team needs to improve on its speed and quickness, and working on its defense in the front-court. But by midseason, Perkins believes the defense will be able to work its way to being one of its strengths.

“We’re going to create a lot of problems for other teams, defensively, by midseason,” he said.

For now, the Wildfire have a 10th place pre-season ranking, but the team is ready to create a spark that will ignite a blazing run near the end of the season, and hope it doesn’t get put out so early, if at all.

“We realize we’re starting kind of at the bottom, but we don’t want to be playing our best basketball until late February and March anyway,” Perkins said.

The fans will get its first look of the Wildfire when it plays in the Roughrider Tournament at Killdeer High School starting Dec. 17.