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Cougars' boys basketball depth has them pondering the next step

This year, after a 16-7 record and a quarterfinal Region 7 loss to Mott-Regent in 2015-16, head coach Greg Pruitt thinks his Heart River basketball program has all the necessary pieces for another successful year. Now it's just a matter of making...

Heart River senior Dion Madler attempts a layup against Richardton-Taylor during the Roughrider Tournament on Dec. 15, 2015, at the Knights of Columbus Activities Center. (Press File Photo)
Heart River senior Dion Madler attempts a layup against Richardton-Taylor during the Roughrider Tournament on Dec. 15, 2015, at the Knights of Columbus Activities Center. (Press File Photo)

This year, after a 16-7 record and a quarterfinal Region 7 loss to Mott-Regent in 2015-16, head coach Greg Pruitt thinks his Heart River basketball program has all the necessary pieces for another successful year. Now it's just a matter of making them fit.

The Cougars have lots of depth to hopefully counteract their lack of height; lots of newcomers, junior varsity call ups, and a few key returners.

The big loss from last season will be Cole Olson, a versatile player who could run the team as a point guard and get to the basket with ease, said Pruitt.

But 5-foot-10 Dion Madler and 6-foot-2 Zane Besler, both seniors and three-year starters, will be the go-to guys for the Cougars. Both scored in the mid-teens last year, and Besler, tied for the tallest on the team, grabbed 8.1 boards per game. Madler is a two-time All Region 7 performer, and Besler is a two-time All Roughrider Tournament Team member.

Beyond those two, it could be any combinations of players.

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"I think the biggest key for us this year is putting together the pieces of the puzzle. We definitely have the athletes, it's about piecing together who can play where," Pruitt said. "We've got the depth, we definitely need to tweak a few things, but we're excited to see what happens this year."

The Cougars are getting back two players who were inactive last season - seniors Joey Wagner and Caleb Chruszch, the latter of whom last year was recovering from an ACL and MCL tear.

Other returners from either JV or varsity from last year are Tristen Schurke, a guard, Colton Boltz and Jayden Krivoruchka, two good shooters, and Trace Jacobson, who started for the Cougars at points last season.

Also expected to be in the mix are 6-foot-2 Jesse Canode, Aaron Kuntz and sophomore Cauy Shypkowski.

The overarching goal for the Cougars entering this season is a pretty simple one - just to get further than their quarterfinal run a year ago in Region 7.

In a meeting held between Pruitt and his seniors, they discussed reaching the semifinals. If they could get over the hump and join the final four, they decided, all bets would be off from there.

"Last year we got knocked out by Mott-Regent, a very good basketball team, but one of our goals is, the kids want to get back to that semifinal night, and we think anything can happen from there," Pruitt said. "We have a very good region and when four teams get to that spot some funny things happen, and that's what the kids want. From there, we're hoping that we can reach the region title."

Heart River Cougars

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Head Coach: Greg Pruitt (eighth season)

2015-16 result: 16-7 overall, lost in Region 7 quarterfinals

Returners: Dion Madler, Sr., Zane Besler, Sr., Colton Boltz, Sr., Tristen Schuhrke, Sr., Aaron Kuntz, Sr., Trace Jacobson, Jr., Jesse Canode, Jr., Jayden Krivoruchka, Jr., Cauy Shypkoski, Soph.

Newcomers: Caleb Chruszch, Jr., Joey Wagner, Sr.

Related Topics: HEART RIVER COUGARS
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