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MTZ boys basketball looks to the future

By BLAKE FAITH
Staff Writer

The Mt. Zion boys basketball team come off a 20-win season and a narrow buzzer-beating loss in last season’s regional semifinal game. This year, the Braves look to be more battle-tested throughout the season.

Head coach Dale Schuring said that in the first week of practice they are ahead offensively since this is the second season of implementing the same offense. Most of the first week of practice has not been so much teaching as it is refinement of different areas.

The focus areas for the Braves are that the team has to be a better rebounding team on both ends of the floor, had to become better individual defenders and defensively better in one on one matchups and help defense.

Coach Schuring expects senior Carson Cuddy and sophomore Lyncoln Koester are going to be the best offensive weapons that return for the Braves. Brayden Trimble comes back as a sophomore bigger, quicker and stronger after having a late push last season. The Braves also return Kam Clark and Sam Driscoll who saw a lot of playing time last season along with Grant McAtee and Nathan Hart. Newcomers for the Braves are Chase Fink and Makobi Adams at the varsity level along with freshman Jacob Harvey and Jc Anderson.

“To me the biggest difference from last year to this year is we’ve got more depth this year,” Coach Schuring said. “I think we can go easily eight, if not 10, deep with very little drop off. Now skill sets vary from kid to kid, but overall, we’re just deeper, we’re older, we’re stronger. So, I don’t think that we’re not going to miss the graduating seniors. But we’ve certainly got kids that have the ability to step up and step into roles that some of those kids occupied last year.”

Coach Schuring believes that every member on his varsity squad has to be a leader and they have to hold each other accountable. Coach Schuring that includes also leading by example.

Coach Schuring said that the season goal is to obviously go as far in the state tournament, but it is very unpredictable how the season can be. Injuries could play a huge role in February and Coach Schuring knows that.

“I think we snuck up on some people last year,” Coach Schuring said. “That’s not going to happen this year. Our schedule is tougher than it was last year. So record wise, we may be as good we may be better. It could be worse very easily. But I think we’re going to be more battle tested going into the state tournament. I’m not big on setting. Our goal is to win sectional or whatever. This is cliche stuff, but it’s a journey, not a death. If we play well, and try to improve every day and all that, what happens at the end happens at the end. I think we have the ability to get to a regional final and maybe beyond, but there’s no guarantees because the other part that we haven’t talked about here we’re selling who knows exactly what three players could be hurt and when you get to February.”

Coach Schuring’s overall message to readers and the community is that this team will be just as exciting of a team as last year’s.

“The comments I heard about us last year, regardless of whether we won a game or lost the games, were entertaining,” Coach Schuring said. “We get up and down the floor, shoot the ball well, and we hustle. Just come out and see us, because it’s entertainment even if you don’t know anything about basketball for the most part. It’s fun to watch these kids because they play hard and they get up and down the floor and it’s not boring. It may not turn out in our favor. We may throw it away 15 times but you know you’re going to see a fast paced, exciting brand of basketball.”

The Braves begin their season this week in the Lincoln Turkey Tournament playing against Althoff Catholic, Lincoln and Cahokia.

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