Frontier/Northeast A boys
Last year’s Northeast A League boys basketball champion Riverside has departed for the Frontier League, giving Lakeside and Deer Park the opportunity to move up.
The Rams, 13-3 in boys basketball last year, are hoping to remain as competitive in their new league as have been several of the school’s fall sports teams.
“We’re as ready as we’ll ever be,” said Coach Brent Monroe. “We have a good nucleus back. I think we’ll be very competitive.”
Lakeside, which finished fourth and made the NEA playoffs for the first time, would like to improve on that now that Riverside is gone.
“We’re hoping to do well again,” said second-year coach Kevin Mulligan. “I’m excited about the season.”
Deer Park has nowhere to go but up after last year’s 1-14 season. With size and experience, the Stags should be improved.
“One of our goals is to make the playoffs, which we haven’t done in a few years,” said Coach Ben Widman.
Basketball season begins next week with non-league games.
First NEA league games are the following week. Riverside’s league doesn’t begin until January.
Ram strength is togetherness
A blend of returning varsity veterans and newcomers has combined to form a cohesive and enthusiastic Riverside team.
“The strength of this team is its togetherness and teamwork,” said Monroe. “The kids seem to really be looking forward to the challenge.”
Letter winners include junior guard Ryan Monroe and 6-foot-4 posts Kasey Ahrens and Erin Johnson.
Also back are varsity members Don Hodgson, who takes over at point guard, and Chris Koesel, who has added muscle since last year.
Battle Ground transfer Josh Hall will, said Monroe, be counted on for good things.
Cliff Otto, a left-handed point guard, athletic Micah Lundberg, 6-foot-3 Bobby Finch and football tailback Jared Hansen round out the team from last year’s junior varsity.
“This is a great group,” said Monroe. “You can do a lot with athletes.”
The players think they can be a top-four finisher in the Frontier. So does Monroe.
“I have confidence we can compete and realistically believe we have a chance to get one of those spots just because the kids work so hard,” he said.
Six returnees bolster Eagles
Six veteran players will form the nucleus of Lakeside’s basketball team this year.
And a pair of transfer players will help replace two key graduates.
They include 6-foot-4 Ben Spiger from Selah and 6-2 junior Brian Coe from Springdale.
Junior George Petticrew, Lakeside’s football quarterback and a high scorer in basketball last season, is one of the letter winners.
“He brings a lot to the team,” said Mulligan.
Others are 6-foot-5 Josh Miller and guards Billy Bender, Adam Feider, Vince Nelson and Glen Brakel.
Up from junior varsity are Vince Nelson and Mike Dasenbrock.
“We will give everybody a challenge,” said Mulligan. “The kids are comfortable with me now, the transfers are fitting in well, and I feel we have good chemistry.”
Third-year players lead Stags
A trio of third-year varsity players will help Deer Park in its hopes to move up in the league standings.
Trevor Baker, a 6-foot-5 post, and guards Jon Schmitz and Todd Weger are the three Widman is banking on to provide leadership.
“All have started some since their sophomore year, and we will rely on their experience,” he said.
Schmitz, the team’s best shooter, missed much of last year with a dislocated elbow.
Also coming back is 6-6 Aaron Moran, guard Ben Robison and, after he recuperates from an auto accident, Ty Robison.
Adding further size to the team will be 6-8-1/2 junior Owen Faulkner.
“He didn’t start playing until he was a freshman, and he’s still raw,” said Widman.
Rounding out the Stag roster are junior Sean Stevens, sophomore point guard Steven Bryant and fellow sophs Linden Harris and Brett Hall.
“We have a real team-oriented unit,” said Widman.