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BOYS HOOPS PREVIEW: College Heights returns three starters under new coach

SoMo Sports staff reports

College Heights boys basketball returns three of its five starters and several others with varsity experience ahead of the 2023-24 season.

Even after losing integral starters like Curtis Davenport and Ben Thomas, the biggest change to the Cougars this season is their new head coach, Stephen Harrel, a former assistant taking over for coach Eric Johnson, who stepped down at the end of last season. 

“This will be a season of planting and harvesting,” Coach Harrel said. “That means we all have to be patient and have the faith that what we are learning and experiencing will yield good results. I think we will be where we should be in the end as long as we are patient, learn and apply, Lord says yes.”

Leading the list of returners and back to the starting rotation is senior SF Caleb Quade, junior PG Jayce Walker and senior SG Colsen Dickens.

Also bringing back varsity experience is a trio of seniors—F Ethan Ukena, G Zach Beaty and F Steven Calandro.

While young, with time and experience, the bench may prove to be an asset for the Cougars this season because of talent and numbers. Newcomers to the varsity squad include sophomores Adam Stanton (F), Cannon Miller (SG), Ben Schumacher (G), Jadon Smith (SG) and freshman (G) Broderick Burns.

“We have a lot of new talent and a new style of play,” Harrel said. “We adapted a style of play that’s faster, which is the complete opposite of what we have done since I started here. The players are excited to learn and implement this new style of play and so am I.”

That new fast-paced style of play is designed to take advantage of what Harrel believes to be the team’s strengths this season. 

“I think our strength is our speed and ability to control the pace of the game,” he said. “If we can do that, we can keep teams on their heels, constantly having to think on the fly.”

Of course, with a new coach, a new system and several first-time varsity athletes—making sure to limit turnovers and chase down rebounds, while gaining experience on the court as a team will be the most important aspects of the game for College Heights this season. Once the team gets comfortable, Coach Harrel believes the new scheme will be running smoothly. 

“Experience playing together (is key),” Harrell said. “We haven’t had a lot of time together, since football and soccer runs into our season. The more we blend together the better our scheme will be.”

“We would like to go fast, but you can’t run without the ball. We have to gang rebound every possession, being that we are not that big inside. We must get a shot every possession. That cannot happen if you turn it over.”

College Heights opens the season Tuesday against RUSH. 


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