Frosh cagers have excellent season

They were undefeated in league play and lost only two games all year, and they’re the future of Sweet Home’s boys basketball.

“From the start of the year on they battled,” freshman boys Coach David Younger said. “They always got after it. It was fun to watch because a lot of games we’d be down or not playing well at half-time.”

That’s when the team would come out be told once to get it done, and they would get it done.

A team of remarkable athletes, two of them, Don Cliver and Tim Matuszak, were moved promptly to junior varsity.

The team’s only two losses didn’t come until Christmas break when they lost to Marist by three in overtime and Junction City, which avenged a previous loss to this team.

The freshmen were 20-2 overall and 12-0 in league.

Coach Younger coached seventh grade last year and saw quite a bit of this group playing ball. He knew they were a good team, and they ended up 11-1 as eighth graders.

“I was really excited,” Coach Younger said of his first year coaching freshmen. “I knew they worked hard, got after it, and they were competitive. Athletically, they’re just highly competitive, every one of them. After those two losses, they came out and said, ‘Hey, we’re not going to lose again.'”

At Christmas break, the team’s goal was to win every league game.

Achieving that goal was not as important as another achievement.

“They improved every game,” Coach Younger said. “I talked about putting together a full 32 minutes. By the middle of the season, we accomplished that. I could put anybody on the court, and they knew what they were doing.”

That team included Anthony Mink, Ricky Howe, Clint Moran, Cody Miller, Josh walker, Mike Severns, Tyler Emmert, Ronak Patel, Michael Barnes, J.T. Hays, Malcolm Brown, Tyler Hannen and Kenny Jones.

“All of them had a tremendous work ethic,” Coach Younger said, but about four of them emerged as team leaders.

“I think the main guy, and I think everyone on the team would say this, was Anthony Mink,” Coach Younger said. “He bought into what we were trying to do early on. I could tell him to run 10 wind sprints for fun, and he would do it.”

He improved dramatically over the season, recognizing defenses, offenses and special situations.

Coach Younger also looked to Emmert, Howe and Severns as strong team leaders.

Severns played post his whole life, but the program needed him at point, a completely new role, but he did it well running a seven-game stretch in the middle of the season with zero turnovers.

“At any level, that’s amazing,” Coach Younger said. “He really, toward the end of the season was taking care of the ball.”

Howe is “just very skilled athletically,” Coach Younger said. Coach Younger “moved him off of wing to post where he’d have a bigger impact. He draws defenders. He played hard. He’s another guy with just an intense desire to win.”

Sometimes having guys like Mink and Howe on the same team can be difficult because both are high scorers, but the team did well going to whichever was hot or had the shot, playing unselfishly. Coach Younger said they needed to be patted on the back for that.

Coach Younger said Emmert can play defense, pull down rebounds.

Being able to play defense will keep an athlete in the program because the “offense will come later,” Coach Younger said. Defense is where Emmert excelled.

Coach Younger related a number of stories how each member of the team were key to different wins throughout the season.

“I think the freshmen as a whole, they’ve got a bright future,” Coach Younger said. “I know Coach Little and Coach Risen are very excited about the freshman class moving up.”

The most important things about this team are its great individuals who are willing to work hard, Coach Younger said, and everyone of them improved throughout the season.

They have strong teamwork and listen well to the coaches.

“They definitely have potential,” Coach Younger said. “I’m not going bet any money on them yet because I want to see how hard they work this spring. They definitely have the potential.”

All of them have the potential to make junior varsity or even varsity next year, Coach Younger said. “From day one, they were competitive and willing to work.”

“The freshmen were good,’ Coach Younger said. “Next year, they’re going to have to be great. After that, they’re going to have to practice perfection with their fundamentals. Fundamentals will be the key to how well they do in the future.”

Coach Younger expects them to do just that if they keep doing what they’ve been doing, working hard.