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Mott-Regent boys look to build on 4th place finish

MOTT -- Nate Zachmann's boys basketball team at Mott-Regent this year may not be as tall as it was last year, but he hopes the team's athleticism will carry over, allowing it to build on its fourth-place finish in Region 7 from 2015-16.

Mott-Regent senior Brady Wegh, left, attempts a shot against Killdeer in last season's Roughrider Tournament on Dec. 15, 2015, at the Knights of Columbus Activities Center. (Press File Photo)
Mott-Regent senior Brady Wegh, left, attempts a shot against Killdeer in last season's Roughrider Tournament on Dec. 15, 2015, at the Knights of Columbus Activities Center. (Press File Photo)

MOTT - Nate Zachmann's boys basketball team at Mott-Regent this year may not be as tall as it was last year, but he hopes the team's athleticism will carry over, allowing it to build on its fourth-place finish in Region 7 from 2015-16.

Key returners from last year's squad include All-Region 7 performer senior Brady Wegh (14.3 points and 9.4 rebounds per game, with 69 total steals, 67 assists and 36 blocks) and fellow seniors Sean Hertz (5.4 points, 3.6 rebounds) and Dylan Ambers (5.5 points, 3.1 rebounds). Juniors returning include Tanner Zentner (5.1 points), Hunter Crist (2.1 points, 1.9 rebounds) and Jonah Candrian, and Cody Perkins returns as a sophomore this year.

"We're not very big, we're not very tall, but I think we want to guard the full length of the court to really make up for the difference in our height," Zachmann said. "I like to play fast-paced and play aggressive. I believe when you can create some defensive pressure, that really makes easy offense."

In a difficult region, Zachmann hopes his players' ability to guard multiple positions will pay dividends.

"A week into practice, very, very little has been done on offense. In basketball, there's a lot you can't control, but what you can control is defense every night. We can control how hard we want to defend," Zachmann said. "Sometimes on offense the ball just does not go in and you can't control that, but defensively we can control our effort."

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Wegh, at 6-foot-2, is arguably the most versatile of the bunch, with the ability to guard any position regardless of height or speed.

"He's logged a lot of varsity minutes, and aside from his athleticism, he just has really good intangibles," Zachmann said. "He can play a little bit of point guard, he can play the two-guard, he can play one-through-five very easily."

Hertz gives the team a ton of hustle when he's on the floor, and though he can score at times, he can also be a valuable on-ball defender. Zachmann praised Hertz's ability to develop a midrange game as well.

"It's either an inside layup or a deep 3, and he's got a very nice midrange shot," he said, "so we're trying to put him somewhere to be successful with that."

Ambers and Perkins, at 6-foot and 6-foot-1, respectively, provide the team a nice pair of post players for when the Wildfire need to look that way.

Zachmann expects Zentner to develop into one of the team's main scoring threats, and junior Josh Wallace is still coming back from an ankle injury suffered during the football season, but Zachmann reports he's been doing well on defense thus far.

For the Wildfire to work their way back to the region semifinals and possibly beyond, Zachmann said the team's defense needs to have its intended effect, but also that this already tight-knit group must stay together.

"It's a really competitive group, and with some maturity, all these minutes these kids have been logging for the past two or four years, that's all going to pay off," he said. "Come March, you have to be playing your best basketball. To build off of last year and get into the final, it's going to take a lot of focus - being mentally prepared and physically prepared."

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Mott-Regent Wildfire

Head coach: Nate Zachmann (third season)

2015-16 result: 15-10 overall, finished fourth in Region 7 Tournament

Returners: Brady Wegh, Sr., Sean Hertz, Sr., Dylan Ambers, Sr., Tanner Zentner, Jr., Hunter Crist, Jr., Josh Wallace, Jr., Jonah Candrian, Jr., Cody Perkins, Soph.

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