Younger players look up to 3 returning athletes as role models

Jordan McEntee, Sports Editor

He dribbles down the court.
He’s used to searching for a senior to pass the ball to, but he soon realizes that he is that senior.
Jack Porter, John Stoothoff and Brady Buescher are the three seniors on the varsity boys basketball team.
Porter and Stoothoff are the only returning varsity players from last year’s squad.
“Last year, John and I were the only real underclassmen,” Porter said. “This year it’s kind of the opposite.”
Buescher played on JV last year and said the move to varsity hasn’t been too difficult.
“It wasn’t a giant jump from JV to varsity,” he said. “It’s definitely faster and more physical. But a lot of working hard over the summer got us prepared.”
Transitioning from a team full of seniors to just three this year, Porter said the team focuses less on age differences and more on a team mentality.
“Last year, you’d look up and just about every guy you passed to was a senior,” he said. “Now we don’t really look at each class. We’re all just one team.”
Porter said with less upperclassmen, the team is more balanced.
“We share the ball well, and there’s more balanced scoring,” he said. “We don’t rely on one guy. On any given night, it could be anyone.”
Buescher said the entire basketball program is like a big family.
“When coach talks, he says he feels something different about this team,” he said. “Usually it’s more stratified — the older guys, the JV and the sophomores. But now everyone meshes together.”

Basketball coach Chris Hansen said the boys on the team genuinely like and care for one another.
“When you look across the court, and you really care about the other guys, you’re going to be a teammate,” he said. “We definitely have that going for us.”
Hansen said the seniors have naturally filled the leadership roles on the team.
“It’s a good situation,” he said. “They take ownership of the team. We don’t even have to tell them. They know this is their last time to play together, so they’re taking initiative. It’s been a smooth transition.”
Hansen said Porter and Stoothoff provide a good example for younger players on and off the basketball court.
“Jack and John are really good guys,” Hansen said. “Off the court, they have great character. And from a basketball perspective, they work extremely hard.”
Buescher said each underclassman brings a lot of talent onto the court and plays a big part in the team’s success.
“Our point guard,[sophomore] Ryan Brady, brings a lot of energy, and he’s a really good game manager,” he said. “Then Connor [Hurst], Mitch [Sundquist], Andrew [Reinkemeyer], all the juniors, are all good scorers and great rebounders. They bring a lot of athleticism to the table.”
Porter said some of the younger guys are still learning their roles on the team.
“They just need to step back, and take a breath,” he said. “They’re playing the same game they’ve always played.”
Stoothoff said the student section contributes greatly to the positive atmosphere at home games.
“We definitely have the best student section — the best front row,” he said.
Porter and Stoothoff said all the fan support is encouraging, especially on theme nights.
A list of theme nights is posted on the bulletin board in the senior hall.
Any student can suggest ideas for theme nights, and Student Council finalizes the decision.
Stoothoff said he wants the team to finish stronger than previous seasons.
“Each year, it seems like we’re beaten down by the end of the season,” he said. “I want us to finish on a high note and build up some momentum for next year.”
Hansen said his main priority for the team is for each player to improve every single day.
“We’re different than an experienced team,” he said. “We’re learning on the go. Where we are now is significantly better than we were a month ago. I hope I can say that same thing about a month from now. It’s a process.”
Stoothoff said the team is still discovering its potential.
“There are a lot of people who don’t know what we’re capable of — we don’t even know what we’re capable of,” he said. “We’re just going to learn as we go, and I think we’re going to surprise some people.”