Wildfire a 'work in progress'
In the offseason, the Mott-Regent boys basketball team introduced a new head coach in the name of Pat Perkins. He replaced Nate Zachmann, who guided the team to a 63-54 record over his five years on the bench.
Perkins' previous coaching experience includes stints as an assistant at the high school level and he has worked with this current crop of Wildfire seniors as their coach in middle school.
"It's a new regime and obviously for the boys, it's quite the interruption in the continuity of the program when you switch coaches," Perkins said. "The first few days of practice have been just like any new program, up and down. But overall, we're progressing. ... We're pretty pleased with the progress we've made at this point."
That progress has been apparent through the first two games of the 2018-19 season. The Wildfire defeated Linton-HMB 66-56 in its season opener on Dec. 8, and motored by New England 71-49 during the first round of the Roughrider Tournament on Dec. 11.
In the those games, the team has been led by Pat's son, All-Region player Cody Perkins. Scoring 45 points through the early portion of the season, the 6-foot-4 senior forward has shown glimpses as to why he could be a potential All-State performer as the year rolls along.
According to Pat, Cody has worked on his fundamentals, particularly his offense in the paint, through participating in camps and AAU basketball over the summer. However, there is one area where the coach will lean on his son the most.
"His leadership ability—he understands that he's going to have to play a large role," Perkins said of Cody. "He's a team captain. He's going to have to keep his teammates involved, share the ball and make his teammates better."
The three other seniors on the Mott-Regent roster are Isaac Frey, Asad Watson-Buffalo and Teddy Mayer. Frey is a versatile point guard who can shoot from the outside and attack the basket. Watson-Buffalo is an explosive forward that the team will rely on to grab rebounds.
Mayer, along with sophomores Logan Lutz, Ryan Doe and junior Rayce Kovar, are all forwards who will operate primarily out of the post.
Sophomore guard Sam Huether and junior forward Jayden Hauck can provide an additional scoring punch, while sophomore guard Caleb Candrian might be the team's best shooter from the perimeter.
The talent is in place and gradually learning a new system in the half-court called the motion offense.
"It's kind of a work in progress," Pat Perkins said. "It's going to take a little bit of time for everybody to understand the offense. We are pretty comfortable where we're at defensively; they all work really well together defensively. But offensively, it's just going to be an adjustment and an opportunity for some of the younger players to gain some confidence and understand their role in the program."
Last season, the Wildfire fell to eventual Region 7 champion Beulah 67-59 in the regional tournament quarterfinals. If the team wishes to improve on last year's finish, Pat Perkins believes it starts on the practice floor.
"Our team needs to improve every day in practice. They need to come with the right mindset, help each other, share the ball and practice like they want to win," Pat Perkins said. "My philosophy is that you play like you practice. They just got to help each other out, be good teammates. This group has always played together, so we're relying on a lot of team chemistry and team basketball."