The virtue of patience Heart River boys prepare for competitive season
Senior leadership will go a long way for the Heart River boys basketball team after losing key players to graduation. Ultimately, it will come down to time and patience as they navigate through the treacherous waters of Region 7 and the various strong teams belonging to it.
Having a solid season the previous year going 12-10 overall and 7-7 in the region, the Cougars finished fifth. This year will prove to be a new challenge, expressed head coach Erik Klein, recognizing the amount of talent throughout the section.
Klein is in his fourth season leading Heart River boys basketball.
“Region 7 this year is just phenomenally talented in my opinion … It makes it a lot of fun, but it is challenging.” Klein said. “In all honesty, every regional game we play this year, if we don't play at a high level, we won't win.”
The Cougars lost four seniors from last year’s squad, including their All-Region guard Preston Walter, but have two senior forwards that have stepped up and filled leadership roles. The two senior captains this season are Braden Obrigewitch and Tarence Dillinger.
“The leadership has been great, the energy in the gym has been really phenomenal thus far this season,” Klein said. “Typically this first week of practice is kind of rocky, getting the younger guys acclimated to how we are practicing, but this year it has been going really well. I got to give hats off to our seniors so far this year, because they are really showing positive leadership and I think that is going to help us a lot.”
They also have juniors that are returning and will be pillars for their starting lineup early in the season, which include guards Beau Kruger and Austin Buckman, who Klein said will essentially be the floor general for them.
Cade Wyant is another junior who will certainly see varsity minutes and is currently recovering from a knee injury sustained during the football season.
“He (Wyant) has been cleared to play, but we are going slow with him. Definitely limiting his reps right now in practice,” Klein said. “We are hoping to get the muscles around that knee a little bit stronger. We’ll see him on the court to start the season, but it may be limited until we get past the Christmas break.”
They plan on the early season to be utilized by developing the younger players to create depth in their squad while having them experience the fast tempo that varsity play has to offer.
“We got to create some depth and grow our bench. That is going to be an early priority for us because we know we are going to need it when we get to the end of the season,” Klein said. “The big thing for us is we just need to be patient in the early season and continue to get better because I do believe we can be a competitive basketball team come regional tournament time.”
Though the season is still young, Klein is happy with the work ethic his players are showing him and believes they are right on track to playing competitively as the season progresses.
“That is what I like about us is that we all have motors … They are all going to work,” Klein said. “The way I look at it is we want to be playing our best basketball come March. We want to be competitive right out the gates, but we do have some shoes to fill from what we graduated last year.”