Hone filling big shoes in CarringtonReplacing a coaching mainstay is no easy task, but when that void presents itself someone has to step up and answer the call. In the case of the Carrington Cardinal boys’ basketball team, that man is Matt Hone.
By: Michael Savaloja, The Jamestown Sun
Replacing a coaching mainstay is no easy task, but when that void presents itself someone has to step up and answer the call.
In the case of the Carrington Cardinal boys’ basketball team, that man is Matt Hone.
Hone is guiding the Cardinals this season in his first stint as a head Class B boys’ basketball coach, replacing 16-year veteran Nate Monson. Monson decided it was time to put down the clipboard this season, after amassing 423 career victories.
“You’ve definitely got some big shoes to fill, when you’ve got a guy who’s a legend in the state of North Dakota as a coach with well over 400 wins and here I come with zero wins as far as a head coach in North Dakota,” Hone said. “From that standpoint, I don’t know if it’s pressure, but there are expectations.”
Hone and the Cardinals will be attempting to defend their title in the Stutsman County Tournament, which starts today at 3 p.m. inside the Jamestown Civic Center.
Along with being the defending tournament champs — the team’s first in five years of trying — the Cardinals had won 40 of 51 games the past two seasons, which included a Class B state championship in 2010.
Carrington has been a Class B powerhouse the past few years, with the girls’ basketball team winning a state title just last winter. It’s a community that’s grown accustomed to success, and the bar has certainly been set high for the new head coach.
“So, you try to live up to that,” said Hone, who was an assistant under Monson last season. “I’m not going to try to be better than Nate Monson, but we want to put a program out there that is competitive and be successful in our own way.”
The Cardinals are off to a 1-1 start to the season, with a 69-26 victory over Barnes County North and a 59-44 defeat to No. 5-ranked LaMoure. As the tournament’s No. 3 seed, Carrington will be facing No. 6-seeded Ellendale (0-2) this evening in the final quarterfinal game of the night.
“We don’t know a whole lot about them. We know they like to run a zone defense and they’ll try to work it in and try to score in the paint if they can,” Hone said. “So we’re preparing for a zone, and we’ll be trying to work the ball up and down the floor with our speed and athleticism.”
According to the coach, team speed and depth will be what benefits the Cardinals this season. They also have some youthful talent, as they start freshman Seth Abaurrea at point guard.
Abaurrea is joined in the starting five by junior guard Taylor Skytland, senior small forward Levi Hagen, senior forward Scott Englehorn and junior center Scott Burnham.
In their two games played, the 6-foot-2 Englehorn has paced the team with 12.5 points per game, with Skytland averaging 11 and Abaurrea 9.5.
“We’ve got a lot of depth. We’ve got 10 guys on the varsity and we play all 10 of them. They’re very interchangeable as far as that goes,” Hone said. “It’s a good mix of seniors and juniors. We do start a freshman at point guard, but Seth has been doing very well for us so far. He’s very athletic and likes to get up and down the floor very quickly, and that’s the type of basketball we like to play.
“We want to force the other team into our tempo.”
The team’s biggest hurdle so far, according to the coach, has been getting the players accustomed to the changing of the guard on the sideline.
“It’s kind of a work in progress right now. We’ve kept a few parts from Nate’s old scheme, but other than that it’s a completely new system,” Hone said. “One of our goals is to first get the kids used to what we’re doing. As far as wins and losses, I don’t want to put a number on it, but we’d certainly like to get back to where we were last year with 14 wins.
“If we can get there and be competitive in every game, that would be a good season for us.”
Ellendale enters today’s game after dropping its first two contests of the year against Sargent Central (56-49) and South Border (57-43).
“As far as right now, we’re just looking at getting through the first round,” Hone said. “We want to put on a good show against Ellendale and then see who we face in the second round.
“If it happens, we’d like a second shot at Lamoure. They’re the ones with the big target on their backs right now.”
LaMoure (4-0), the tournament’s No. 1 seed, kicks off the tournament at 3 p.m. against Kidder County (1-1). Kidder County is the tourney’s No. 8 seed, but the team just defeated No. 7-seeded Pingree-Buchanan-Kensal 59-41 on Monday.
P-B-K (0-3) faces No. 7-seeded Edgeley-Kulm (1-1) at 6 p.m., right after No. 4-seeded Central Prairie (1-0) squares off against No. 5-seeded Midkota (0-1).
Prior to last year’s Stutsman County Tournament won by Carrington, Central Prairie had won the tournament in back-to-back years. LaMoure was last crowned the Stutsman County tourney champs back in 2008, when the team went 26-2 and finished third at the state Class B tournament.
Sun sports writer Michael Savaloja can be reached at (701) 952-8461 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org