Middle Park boys ready to jump into new season
Sky-Hi Daily News
A new season of exciting hoop action is about to begin as Middle Park High’s boys basketball team prepares to play its first game this weekend.
The Panthers will be opening the 2007-08 season Saturday with a 5 p.m. game in the gym at Denver Lutheran High School. They will not be playing the Denver Lutheran Lights, but another team ” Houston Lutheran from Houston, Texas.
“This was set up last year and I don’t know much about Houston Lutheran,” said coach Brian Reynolds. “But we feel pretty confident because we have returning players who had significant varsity playing time last season. I think we can look forward to a great season.”
The main reason for this upbeat assessment is that six of the Panther 11-member varsity squad are returning lettermen. The squad has four seniors, six juniors and a sophomore ready to take the court.
The members of Middle Park’s varsity squad are: Ian Sutton, Jordan Reynolds, Zilvinas Sutkus, Mike Schmidt, Sam Damon, Kody Mourer, Andrew Clausen, Zane Bickler, D.J. Pritt and Jared Rojo.
“Saturday’s first game in Denver will be our first test,” Reynolds said. “Next week (Thursday through Saturday, Dec. 6-8), we’ll be competing in the Meeker Tournament, which should be an even better indicator. After that, we’ll be able to compare our results with what we’ve done there in the past.”
Reynolds stressed that he will be using these first games as a means to assess the team’s court strategy.
“On offense we will be the same as what we’ve been using for the past five seasons,” Reynolds said. “We’ll be playing an up-tempo game with a lot of fast breaks as well as some full court press. Our offense will focus on getting the rebound and then taking the ball back down the court.”
The real changes to the team’s strategy this season will be on defense.
“We are looking at playing a real change-up game on defense,” Reynolds said. “We plan to use three or four different defenses in a game. Sometimes we use them all in a single quarter. The idea is to keep our opponents guessing.”
This old-new approach to team strategy is only part of what Reynolds, who is the Panthers’s new head coach, wants to accomplish this season. In previous years, he was the team’s junior varsity coach.
“I’m really thankful to have this opportunity to be this team’s head coach,” he said. “In that position, I realize that I will have an influence over our players not only on the court, but also in area of ethics and life skills,” he said. “I believe a lot of this can be learned through basketball.”
To help implement the team’s game plan for this season and to help build for the future, Reynolds also has a new coaching staff. Shawn McElroy, the new junior varsity coach, is a former teacher from Rifle who coached middle school and youth basketball teams. The new C-Team coach is Diane Bickler, who has coached local youth basketball for about a decade.
Members of the Panther junior varsity are: Justin Cisneros, Ross Eaton, Mitch Sprague, K.C. Carter and Mark Schmidt.
The C-Team players are: Connor Spencer, Parker Hale, Kale Heckerson, Oscar Hernandez, Mantas Raila, David Diamond, Darrell Pritt, Eldon Oswald, Jordan Lenhard, Bartosz Koczera, Martynas Ramazaukas, Ethan Daniel, Tyler Orr and Justin Bonitas.
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