Heart River hopes to bounce back after '19-20 struggles

After ending its season with an overall record of 5-20, the Cougars hope to see more success in the upcoming season.

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The Cougars will be emphasizing its defensive performance in hopes of obtaining more success in the '20-21 season. (Matthew Curry/The Dickinson Press)

Erik Klein's Cougars saw some success in the '18-19 season ending with an overall record of 10-15 and 8-9 in Class B Region 7, placing eighth overall in the region. The team looked to add onto that in the '19-20 season, but were unable to do so, ending with a 5-20 overall record and going 3-11 in the conference, placing 10th in the region.

Now, the team hopes to bounce back to what it saw in the '18-19 season and potentially higher in the upcoming '20-21 season.

"We have one of the toughest regions of basketball in North Dakota and sometimes that gets frustrating and intimidating but I think that it’s a lot of fun," Klein said. "I’m looking forward to competing in this season with this team. We’re bringing back a lot of experience, we got a lot of good solid practices right away and I think that comes with having more maturity on our team."

The Cougars are looking to be led by seniors forward Tyler Kastrow regarded as being an athletic shooter on the offensive end and forward Tanner Obridgewitch known for being a 6-foot-2-inch athletic big man. Senior guard Preston Walter also returns to the court after missing his junior year due to an injury that required surgery.

The team will also be looking at stronger performances from juniors Skyler Froehlich at guard and Tarance Dillinger at forward.


Despite not having as much success as it hoped for last season, Klein believes the experience will benefit the team coming into the upcoming season.

"We have some experience and we have some young guys too but it’s just a nice mix and I don’t think that player whose going to average 20+ points a night but I think that we're going to have pretty balanced scoring which is a lot of fun to coach," he said.

Klein emphasized that the Cougars will be looking at being better on both sides of the ball this season in order to obtain more wins.

"Defensively I want to be one of the hardest working teams in the region," he said. "We have to be fundamentally sound on the offensive side and we just need to be able to score. Our kids have always played hard and played good defense but last year we had a hard time executing on the offensive side. This year we need to simply score."

The road will not be easy for the Cougars, which are projected to finish seventh in the region. However Klein is confident his players are ready for the challenge based on last season's results.

"They were disappointed with how the season ended last year and they’re getting after it and we’re looking forward to the challenge of playing some of these teams in region 7," he said. "We have a tough road ahead for our non-regional non-conference games so it’s only going to make us better and our goal is to keep getting better throughout the season and play our best basketball of the season come March."

The Cougars are set to begin its season on Wednesday on the road against Bowman County at 7 p.m.

Matthew Curry is a sports reporter and photographer for the West Central Tribune.
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