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Killdeer Cowboys embrace new leadership

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Killdeer High School basketball programs
Photo contributed / Killdeer boys basketball program
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The Killdeer Cowboys welcome a new head basketball coach to the team this year, Greg Pruitt, who is taking over for Andy Murphy. The Cowboys had an 8-14 record last season and have two of their best scorers returning to the program. Their focus is to be a Top 8 team in Region 7 and improve steadily every day.

Pruitt is a long-time coach in the Dickinson area and has 25 years of coaching experience. He was at Glen Ullin Hebron the last 4 years as their head coach and led the Heart River Cougars for 11 years prior to that. He was also an assistant coach with Gregg Grinsteinner at Trinity for 11 years.

“Coach Nick Walker called and asked if I wanted to come to Killdeer; he was going to be the athletic director and I wanted to take advantage of that opportunity because he’s been a great coaching mentor of mine and we’ve coached against each other for many years,” Pruitt said. “Just to be in the same program together is something that I thought would help me fulfill my coaching dreams.”

The Cowboys have no new players on the team this year and no All-State or all Region selections, but they have a strong lineup of kids with the potential to be All-Region this season.

Killdeer’s starting five will consist of 6’5 freshman forward Jaxon Reese, sophomore center/forward Owen Schleppenbach, 6’4 senior Red Sky Starr (also known as Hank), sophomore guard Cooper Bang, and guard/forward Jekori Dahlen.

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Starr is a 3-year starter for the Cowboys and is the leading scorer for the team. Last year he averaged 11.4 points per game, 6.2 rebounds per game, 20 steals, 26 assists and 36 blocks. Schleppenbach was close behind him with 11.9 points per game and 7.4 rebounds per game. Nine of the 12 boys on the roster are over 6 feet tall.

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Redsky Starr collecting a rebound.
The Dickinson Press filed photo

The Cowboys graduated three seniors, Colby Asay, Owen Duttenhefner and Keith Dukart. Both Asay and Dukart were starters. Two-sport athlete Calvin Dobitz will also not be returning to the program this season due to a football knee injury.

Killdeer’s goal for the season is to make it to the Regional Tournament, which they have not done for eight years.

“Getting them into the final 8 would be a huge accomplishment for us,” Pruitt said. “We are going to come every day and work hard to improve. We have a goal of 1% better every day. So far in our preseason the kids have brought that, and the energy level has been great.”

Pruitt says one of the team’s biggest battles will be adjusting to a new coach and coaching style. The boys have been working to guard in the full court, put pressure on the opponent’s offense and push the ball in transition.

“The one thing we have been doing well in practice is getting after the defensive side of things,” Pruitt said. “We have a lot of good length, so that brings a lot of availability for the things we want to do on our defensive schemes. The offense is going to come as the season goes.”

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Jekori Dahlen(32) moving the ball inside the perimeter.
The Dickinson Press filed photo

Amber Neate grew up in rural Skull Valley, Arizona. Her passion of covering sports of all types, including personal favorites wrestling, hockey, rodeo and football, began at an early age.

She obtained her Associate of Arts Degree from Yavapai Community College before attending Northern Arizona University for a three-year journalism program. While at NAU, Neate worked as an Assistant Sports Editor for the Lumberjack Newspaper as well as a hockey commentator for KJACK Radio.

Gaining her experience working for a small community paper, The Wickenburg Sun, as a general news and features reporter, her love for sports and a small-town community brings her to Dickinson to cover southwest North Dakota sports.

LANGUAGES: English
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