2013-14 Winter Sports Preview
They’re back and they’re ready to build on previous success and to take the next steps on the ladder to the top of the ranks in Class “A” hoops.
Last year’s Hot Springs boys’ basketball team attained heights not seen in the recent past as the team finished 10-12, losing in the District 15A finals to Red Cloud, under first-year head coach Aaron Noteboom.
The 10 wins nearly equaled the number of victories for the last three years (11 wins) combined, and included a 62-61 win over arch-rival Custer in the opening round of the postseason – on Custer’s home court.
Gone from the 2012-13 team are Austin Benford, Chad Janis, Isaac Friesen and TJ Beougher, but Noteboom welcomed back a deep stable of experienced returners to the new and improved edition of the Bison boys’ basketball team.
“Early practices have gone really well,” Noteboom said. “We have five returners that have a good grasp of what we want to do, so instead of starting from scratch, we were able to just dust things off and get right to work.”
Noteboom pointed to having an excellent team camp this past summer in Colorado, as his charges were able to hone their game against top competition in the off season.
Leading the returners are seniors Hunter Pulscher (6-5 post) and 6-1 wingman Derek Merchen. Both saw extensive minutes in Noteboom’s first season and will be looked upon to lead this year’s team.
A trio of experienced juniors will likely fill out Noteboom’s startling lineup, as guard Cole Berkley (5-11) wing Grady Egly (6-3) and 6-3 post player Jacob Tarrell will complete a unit familiar with what their coach wants on a daily basis in practice and when they step on the court.
“We do expect to expand upon our offense this season,” Noteboom said, “adding some additional options to our basic motion set; some more picks and such.”
Defensively, Noteboom said he wants to pressure the ball as much as possible, taking advantage of his returning experience as well as some players who have improved in the off season and will come off the Bison bench.
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David Nelson, a 6-0 junior, will see valuable minutes, and can cover both a wing position but has the size to battle in the paint as well. Junior Chance Britain (6-0) will also be counted on to give a breather to the Bison backcourt.
He also pointed to sophomores Max Birkholt, Riley Stevens, Seth Stevens and Preston Benford, as well as freshmen Skyler Haden and Caden Maciejewski as players who will develop on the junior varsity, but could contribute at the varsity level as well.
“The kids had shown a tremendous work ethic so far this season,” Noteboom said. “As a team, we will strive to be competitive in the Black Hills Conference, while playing solid, fundamental team basketball.”
Locally, he sees perennial favorite St. Thomas More as being a team to beat, both at the conference and regional level.
“Spearfish, Douglas and Custer will all be strong in the BHC as well,” he added.
Much has been said of the change in the playoff system in basketball this season, but Noteboom for one, looks forward to the different format.
“Oh year, I like it,” he said. “We don’t have to be concerned with a team that we don’t regularly play during the season popping up at the districts. We cross paths – at least once – with all of the teams in our region. I like that.”
Likewise, he relishes opening the season with St. Thomas More.
“We get More and then Chadron before the Christmas break. More in particular is a good measuring stick to where we are and what we need to work on over the two-weeks before we have Oelrichs come in to play.”
Noteboom is assisted by Chris Larson, with some help from Lindall Janis with the freshman team.