Killdeer came into the ‘19-20 season with the primary goal of winning more than one game as it did in ‘18-19. It succeeded with a 7-15 overall record. The Cowboys may hope to continue in building their success, but it may be difficult with the loss of their core senior class.

The Cowboys come into the new season with the goal of trying to find their new core of key players following the loss of its key players Dayton Danks, Jamie Keller and Kaidin Nodl, its three top scorers and playmakers.

The Cowboys were projected to finish 11th in the region. After losing their first two games of the season, the team pulled out a 56-42 win over Hettinger-Scranton on Saturday.

“We’re going to have our lumps and that’s obviously happened the first couple games, but we’re going to take our lumps and our bruises early on because we’re a different team than we’ve been the last couple of years,” Murphy said.

“It might be time for the boys to become a go-to guy once in a while instead of passing the ball and waiting for the other person to do something,” Murphy added. “Now it’s time. We've got to step up and we've got to take the initiative, and we've got to be the aggressors and we need to do it because we don’t have those guys anymore. I think we’ve got to learn our roles still when it comes to the season, and we’re still figuring them out.”

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While it may be a challenge, the team will have two seasons to figure out its next set of go-to players with 10 of its 12 varsity players being juniors, the other two being lone senior Ezekiel Diaz and sophomore Red Sky Starr.

Some players to watch for during this season will include forward Tyler Hansen. The All-State selection in football could be a strong player in the post for the Cowboys. Guards Keith Dukart and Cayden Kling have played a lot of minutes for Killdeer the past few seasons, and Murphy is expecting big things from the duo.

“I think those guys are going to be the key to our success this season,” Murphy said. “We’re going to rely on those guys to do a lot of things for us this season.”

Guards Colby Asay and Red Sky Starr will also be looked at to bring some much needed force to the bench.

As for strengths, with 12 players being on the roster, Murphy says the depth will be highly beneficial to the Killdeer basketball team.

“We got 12 varsity jerseys handed out, and I trust all 12 on the floor. I think there’s going to be games where we do go 12 deep, and I think that’s one of our strengths right now,” he said.

As far as goals for the team, Murphy is looking forward to seeing the team grow each day with leaders beginning to form.

"I want to see us grow as individuals and as a team," he said. "We need leaders, and we've got a couple leaders that are starting to show, but you never know whose going to be the one to show up and be a leader on your team.

"We work hard; that’s one thing we definitely do is work hard. I think all of our boys are working hard on both ends of the floor. They never give up regardless of the score, regardless of how the possessions go. They’re always flying around and giving 110%."

The team also hopes to be one of the top eight seeds to host a home play-in game in the first round of the Class B Region 7 tournament.

“I think we've really just got to develop our skills and our roles,” Murphy said.

Killdeer is scheduled to play its next game at home on Tuesday against Center-Stanton.