Comin’ off the bench

Basketball looks to rattle the rim this season

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Photo by Josie Torres

Michael Owens, Staff Writer

Girls:

     As both the temperature and leaves drop, the unmistakable sound of a Wilson Evolution Basketball hitting hardwood fills the halls at the end of every school day. This can only mean one thing: basketball season is upon us and the Cougars are ready to tear into the Sunflower League this year. 

   Led by Coach Tyler Stewart, who enters his sixth year of coaching the Lady Cougars this year, the team begins their quest to punch their ticket to the state tournament for the second year in a row. With a preseason 6A state ranking of ninth, the Lady Cougars have high hopes about their upcoming season.

   “We have enough talent to get back to the tournament, make some noise and compete for a state title,” Stewart said.

   The team comes back this year without three key senior starters, but the philosophy Stewart coaches by has the makings of a new-born dynasty coming out of the Sunflower League. 

   “The biggest thing we always talk about is that we are never going to rebuild. We are going to reload and that’s what we’re doing here,” Stewart said.

   Stewart isn’t letting his team’s high pre-season ranking change anything in his coaching style. Afterall, it is the same style that got the Lady Cougars their initial high ranking.

   “You know those preseason rankings don’t mean a whole lot,” Stewart said. “We don’t look at those  because no one has played a game yet. We have to continue to get better every day and understand that the rankings that matter come out in March.”

   The Lady Cougars faced Turner High School for their first home game of the regular season. They defended their home turf and won in a commanding style with a final score of 68-4. In their next game, the Lady cougars knocked off the defending 6A state champs Washburn Rural by a score of 52-46 in a spectacle of a game. The Lady Cougars will play again at home Dec. 20 against Lawrence Freestate

 

Boys: 

   Led by Coach Mike Rose, entering his tenth year as a head coach at Northwest, the boys’ varsity team looks to improve on last year’s record. The Cougars lost height from last year’s graduating class and return with a smaller lineup, but Rose is ready for the challenge of playing with a guard-heavy team. 

   “We’re going to try to extend the game and defend them a little bit more on full court,” Rose said. “We’re gonna use our speed to help us and create some havoc for the other team.”

   Rose wants to leave his players with lessons that make them successful people not just on the court, but off the court and even beyond graduation.

   “One of the things that I want them to learn is that no matter how things are going, good or bad, we never get too high or too low,” Rose said. “We just come back the next day and go back to work.”

   Rose learned his coaching style and the way he approaches things from former NW head basketball Coach Ben Meseke, for whom Rose was an assistant coach.

   “He put the game of basketball and life itself in perspective,” Rose said. “The game of basketball is a lot of fun, and a good life too. At the same point, it is a very small part of life in the grand scheme of things.”

   The Cougars began their season at home against the Turner Golden Bears. The team jumped on the Bears early, never letting up. The game ended in a 71-35 win for the cougars. The cougars fell to Washburn Rural 58-69 and will play at home next on Dec. 20.