Class B bonanza: Eighth-ranked CarringtonIf early-season polls are the indication, folks certainly paid attention to last year’s maturation between first-year head coach Matt Hone and the Carrington boys basketball team.
By: By Michael Savaloja, The Jamestown Sun, The Jamestown Sun
If early-season polls are the indication, folks certainly paid attention to last year’s maturation between first-year head coach Matt Hone and the Carrington boys basketball team.
After starting a little slow in 2011, the Cardinals were eventually one of the final 16 teams left playing in the state, having won the District 7 championship and advancing all the way to the Region 4 title game.
Carrington is ranked No. 8 in the state Class B poll, and the team enters this week’s Stutsman County Tournament at the Jamestown Civic Center with the tourney’s No. 1 seed.
“We’ve come a long ways since last year’s Stutsman County Tournament,” Hone said. “The question is can we put it back together again? Can we get back to that level again and reach those expectations that other people have for us?”
The Cardinals get the tournament started this afternoon at 3 p.m. against Midkota in a rematch of last year’s third-place game. Midkota won that one 52-49 after going a perfect 9 of 9 at the free-throw line in the final quarter of play.
The Cardinals left Jamestown last year at 2-3 overall, before putting together a very respectable 16-9 campaign in Hone’s first season at the helm after the departure of longtime head coach Nate Monson.
“Last year (at this time) we were still trying to get a new program into place. New offenses, new defenses, new schemes and new ideas,” Hone said. “It took until midseason until that stuff really started to gel. The first half of the season we were trying to figure out who we were and what our roles were going to be.
“Heading into the tournaments, our roles were defined and our scheme came together. The kids were more comfortable with it, and more comfortable with what I was looking for out of them.”
The experience gained from last year should certainly benefit Carrington not only this week in Jamestown, but for the rest of the season as well. The Cards are a senior-laden squad, with eight seniors on its roster of 12.
To go along with that team depth is great team size. Carrington doesn’t list a player at under 5-foot-10, and 6-5 seniors Scott Burnham (13.1 ppg, 6 rpg) and Austin Johnson (7.5 ppg, 4.9 rpg) anchor the post.
“Obviously right now or strength is inside with our two 6-5 seniors, and Joey Kubal, who is a 6-6 senior as well and is in his first year with the team,” Hone said. “We’ve also got Tysen Rosenau (6-2) and Cole Hendrickson (6-2) that can play the post. Going down the road, in order for us to be successful, we have to get some perimeter play and outside shooting and I hope as the season progresses we’re able to develop into more of a balanced team.”
The Cards have four set starters in Burnham, Johnson, senior guard Taylor Skytland (10.2 ppg) and sophomore guard Seth Abaurrea (6.1 ppg). The team’s fifth starter is tailored to whoever best fits the opponent the Cards are facing.
Hendrickson adds height to the starting lineup, while senior forward Alex Nelson (6-2) brings added aggressiveness and senior guard Casey Murphy brings more ball handling and speed.
The Cards are already off to a 2-0 start, having won at home against Dakota Prairie (72-37) and on the road against Barnes County North (68-40).
Those wins were early stepping stones, according to the coach, and Carrington will be looking to check off more goals this weekend at the Civic Center.
“We wanted to win our home opener, which we did. Then we wanted to win our first road game, which we did. The next stepping stone is coming down to (Jamestown),” Hone said. “We got the No. 1 seed, which is nice, but now we have to go defend that. Our goal is to win the first game of the tournament and then take the next step.”
Carrington won the Stutsman County Tournament back in 2010, and there will be a new champion this weekend. Defending tournament champion LaMoure joined Litchville-Marion this season and the new co-op is currently playing in the Barnes County Tournament, which opened the door for Napoleon to join the Stutsman this year.
Napoleon faces Kidder County in the final quarterfinal game tonight at 7:30.
“Overall, we’re coming into this tournament with a lot more experience and confidence than we did last year,” Hone said. “We need to play up to our potential. With as much experience as we have and as much depth as we have, if we come out and execute our offenses and execute our defenses, and don’t play sloppy and get ourselves into trouble, I feel good about our chances.”
One thing is for certain. Hone isn’t going to let early-season rankings and seedings get in the way of what he expects to see out of his team this weekend.
“I like to tell the kids, ‘Yeah, we’ve got the state ranking, and yeah, we’ve got the No. 1 seed, but that’s really all just potential,’” Hone said. “It doesn’t become a reality until you show it on the court.”
No. 1 Carrington (2-0) vs. No. 8 Midkota (0-3), 3 p.m.
No. 4 Ellendale (1-0) vs. No. 5 Pingree-Buchanan-Kensal (2-1), 4:30 p.m.
No. 2 Edgeley-Kulm (2-0) vs. No. 7 Central Prairie (0-1), 6:00 p.m.
No. 3 Napoleon (1-1) vs. No. 6 Kidder County (0-2), 7:30 p.m.
Sun sports writer Michael Savaloja can be reached at (701) 952-8461 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org