The Bunceton Dragons basketball team makes no excuses for last year’s record.
Although it seems like the Dragons have been stuck in a bad dream for the last few years, the 2017-18 season once again gives Bunceton hope that bigger and better things are ahead for the Dragons.
And why not? With 15 players suited out for the upcoming season, the Dragons will return three starters back from last year’s team, which finished 3-20 overall and 0-4 in the Cooper County Activities Conference.
“The boys look to have a more successful year than the previous few,” said first-year coach Cass Keene. “We’re very young and I’m sure that will be apparent on a few nights. With a talented bunch of freshmen and three of our top four scorers back from last year, I think we will win more than three games.”
The Dragons had a rough start last Friday in the season opener against the Chilhowee Indians, losing 60-23.
Keene also knows its going to be tough in the conference this season with the likes of state-ranked Jamestown. He said the Eagles are the clear frontrunner and that Calvary Lutheran will also be good again this season.
“I think the conference will be competitive two through five,” Keene said.
As for the strengths and weaknesses of this year’s team, Keene said the strengths will include rebounding, defense and experience at the guard and post positions. Balanced scoring should also be a strength, he said.
As for weaknesses, he said ball control and the struggles from learning a new system. Youth, he said, could also be a weakness.
“Our team goals are to practice harder than every team on our schedule every night,” Keene said. “That also ties in with our motto for the season, which is: “Defend till the end”.”
Keene said the lineup for the season could also change from time to time.
But right now, Keene said senior Rylee Knapheide and juniors Blake Petsel and Brayden Doyle all return from last year’s team with experience.
Knapheide averaged 6.9 ppg along with 2.7 rpg. As for Petsel, he will play the point-guard position and returns after averaging 10.0 ppg along with 3.0 rpg, 3.8 apg and 1.2 spg. Doyle, meanwhile, finished the season last year averaging 9.4 ppg along with 6.7 rpg.
Keene said Doyle made the majority of the offseason workouts and looks to have a big year from the post. As for Blake, we will use his speed to guard the perimeter. Rylee, meanwhile, is a difference maker on both ends with his length and playmaking ability.
Other players that look to see considerable minutes this season for the Dragons are junior Dylan Flatt, sophomores Mason Wells, Hunter Shuffield Braxton Kempf and freshmen Jason Burnett and Dillon Alpers.
Flatt returns after averaging 2.1 ppg while Kempf average 2.0 ppg and 2.5 rpg coming off the bench last year.
Keene said Shuffield and Burnett are two freshmen to keep an eye on this season. “They made the offseason a priority and their games grew tremendously,” Keene said. “Dillon looks to impact games with his speed and verticality. Younger brother, Blane Petsel, and Flatt are trustworthy guards to help with ballhandling responsibilities, and Braxton will provide big minutes with his size and skill.”
Other players that will come off the bench this season are senior Austin Anderson, juniors Lane Maddex and Hunter Griffon, sophomore Landon Petree and freshman Trevor Anderson.