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With loss of Cody Holt, Tigers enter season looking for answers

As the New England boys basketball team converged Monday, Nov. 27, for their first official practice of the 2017-18 season, coach Shawn Flaherty saw a number of questions that needed to be answered.

New England guard Nicklaus Rettinger tries to dribble around the defense of a Cougar in the Region 7 tournament last season. (Press File Photo)
New England guard Nicklaus Rettinger tries to dribble around the defense of a Cougar in the Region 7 tournament last season. (Press File Photo)

As the New England boys basketball team converged Monday, Nov. 27, for their first official practice of the 2017-18 season, coach Shawn Flaherty saw a number of questions that needed to be answered.

Chief among them: how will he be able to replace the presence of big man Cody Holt?

"That's definitely going to be big shoes to fill," Flaherty said.

An All-Region 7 team selection last year, Holt graduated from New England High School last year and is currently an offensive lineman at Black Hills State University in South Dakota. With the impact he had on the game, particularly on the defensive end, Flaherty knows 6-foot-8-inch centers are not easy to find.

"Just his presence in the middle, you just can't replace that," Flaherty added. "If he didn't block shots, he altered a lot of shots. Of course, he was a pretty good rim protector for us the past couple of years."

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Allowing their opponents on average to outscore them by three points a game, the Tigers finished last season with a 11-12 record, losing to Heart River 86-64 in the Region 7 tournament quarterfinals. With the loss of size in the middle, New England has to place greater emphasis on collective team defense.

"Giving up 57 points a game or so forth, we going to have to be a better defensive team on the floor, definitely have to make more of a commitment on the defensive end," Flaherty said. "Obviously, a lot of teams like to run with the ball, but whether we'll be able to stop that successfully or not, that remains to be seen."

New England will lean heavily on the guard play of sophomore Gabe Sorenson, seniors Nick Rettinger and Justin Cantwell as well as 6'0 senior forward Denit Sorenson to initiate the offense, take care of the ball and provide an offensive punch. The younger Sorenson is currently recovering from a collarbone injury suffered during the football season and is expected to return later in the season.

The Tigers will feature a number of other seniors, some of which have seen little time on the floor. Flaherty hopes the progression will be there in time.

"It's definitely going to be a challenge for us," Flaherty said. "We have a number of seniors on the squad. A number of them lack lengthy game experience, but hopefully we can be competitive. Hopefully we can make some noise, improve throughout the course of the year and play well when it comes to playoff time."

New England power forward Denit Sorenson begins to elevate for a shot against Heart River in the Region 7 tournament last season. (Press File Photo)
New England power forward Denit Sorenson begins to elevate for a shot against Heart River in the Region 7 tournament last season. (Press File Photo)

Related Topics: NEW ENGLAND TIGERS
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