Heier looks for growth in Wolves team
WATFORD CITY -- The Watford City boys basketball team will be under the direction of head coach Matthew Heier this season, as he takes over for longtime coach Randy Cranston.
WATFORD CITY - The Watford City boys basketball team will be under the direction of head coach Matthew Heier this season, as he takes over for longtime coach Randy Cranston.
Helping the transition is that Watford City returns 11 players from last season, many of whom Heier already has a rapport with after coaching Watford City's C team the last few years.
"That's a big advantage. A lot of the guys that are varsity players now had experience of some sort last year with our JV and varsity squads," Heier said. "We have quite a bit of youth with a pretty big sophomore class and a couple of juniors return that played quite a bit of varsity last year."
The Wolves opened their season with a loss to Bishop Ryan on Tuesday, but after going 5-17 last season, there's still room for improvement.
"It didn't go our way (Tuesday), but we learned a lot and the kids played extremely hard," Heier said. "We have a lot to build on."
Helping that building will be 6-foot-4 junior forward Jaydn Ewing, who Heier hopes to incorporate early and often.
"He's a pretty big kid, pretty athletic, and we're hoping he develops into more of a true post player - do a lot of his work on the block," Heier said. "He's very raw still."
The team's leading returning scorer is senior Cole McGorman, who averaged 10 points per game as a junior.
"He's been around for quite a while, been on varsity for four years now. He's a kid that can really score the ball - really athletic, 6-2 guard," Heier said. "He's a kid that can go off for 10 or 15 points in a quarter."
Heier sees junior Jarek Hogue as one of the team's best defenders who is developing an outside shot.
Sophomore guards Riley Headings and Jessen Homiston got the start in the first game of the year, and Heier would like to see them grow up quickly.
"The main thing with them is getting them more confidence and getting more reps," he said. "They played a little varsity but not a whole lot of minutes last year, and they're kind of thrust into the first this year, I guess."
Off the bench, Heier sees sophomore Brock Haugeberg, junior Kason Hartel and seniors Matthew Ackerman and Matthew Neprash being valuable contributors that could also break into the starting lineup.
"We have nine guys right now competing for seven, eight spots," Heier said. "We don't really lose a whole lot going into our bench. That's kind of our goal by the end of the year, having seven or eight that we trust. Whoever has the hot hand or who's playing well defensively will be in at the end of the game. Our five starters will probably change every other game until we find a rotation that works best for us."
Watford City Wolves
Head coach: Matthew Heier (first season)
2015-16 result: 5-17 overall
Returners: Cole McGorman, Sr., Matthew Ackerman, Sr., Matthew Neprash, Sr., Jaydn Ewing, Jr., Kason Hartel, Jr., Jarek Hogue, Jr., Carter Zenz, Jr., Brock Haugeberg, Soph., Riley Headings, Soph., Jessen Homiston, Soph., Nevada Berquist, Soph.