Youth step up with loss of seniors

Jackie Nichols

As basketball season rolled around, the team realized the lack of veteran leaders attending tryouts and practice.
Besides the five seniors who graduated last year, four returning players will not be on the roster.
One of the varsity players missing from the team is senior Coltin Hermann. After coming off a 7-4 winning football season,  he said he would not return to the court this year.
“I decided not to play because I’m just kind of burnt out of the sport,” Hermann said. “It’s not as fun as it used to be, and I’m honestly just ready to be done with sports.”
Even though Hermann’s name is not on the roster, he is a fan cheering on the guys he has called teammates and best friends for so many years.
“I will miss playing with them. Some of the guys are a few of my best friends, and I’ve grown up playing with them so that will be tough to watch,” Hermann said. “But on the other side, I’m excited to watch them play and help cheer them on.”
Center senior Austin Ray faced the same decision. He chose to come off the gridiron and make the transition to the court. The senior verbally committed to the University of Colorado — Boulder for football and missed tryouts for basketball because of a late playoff run.
“It took me a little while to weigh out the pros and cons,” Ray said. “But as the season came around, I knew I had to play since it’s my senior year and the opportunity we have in front of us this year.”
With final four runs last year and in 2009, where it fell to Troy Buchanan in the semi-finals, the team has a clear goal in mind coming into the season. The Bruins know they could have a chance to win a state title and make history.
“We still have a lot [of seniors]. We have seven. They are a good seven. They work hard and they are going to have to do a lot this year,” head coach Jim Scanlon said. “The best players will play. And the thing about it is some of our better players are our younger kids, so there is competition with the older kids.”
The ratio of underclassmen to seniors on the court has caused team dynamics to change, Scanlon said. Younger Bruins returning to the starting lineup have taken on more pressure to step up and fill the big shoes they were left with.
“We all have to work as a team to lead the team, which is a good thing so we all act as one,” sophomore guard Nick Norton said. “Scanlon is doing the same stuff, but putting [underclassmen] in there hoping we can do better than last year and what they did. Everyone thinks we lost a lot, and they don’t think we’re going to be that good this year.”
Even though some of the seniors will not be on the court this year, senior Carter Marcks knows he will continue to get support from the “team” of guys who won’t be making plays. Keeping their friendships strong off the court will fill the holes in chemistry created by senior absences.
“All the seniors have a connection through the past years playing together, and we will continue to maintain friendships,” Marcks said. “Last year was an amazing run, but we have some unfinished business to address.”
Coming off a 95-32 win over Central Kansas City Friday Dec. 2, the Bruins kept the momentum going into Saturday night’s game. They defeated second-ranked Nixa at Columbia College 77-69. This early season victory surged confidence into the young team going into Monday night’s game against St. Dominic at Troy Buchanan High School in Troy, Mo. Again, the Bruins emerged as the winner with a final score of 68-35.
By Jackie Nichols