By Tiffany L. Rehbein
Could they be anything but the favorite in not only the District 9-C, but also the state?
The two-time defending State Class C champion KG KouGars' basketball program not only boasts a winning tradition, but the entire school exudes top-notch programs.
The KouGars' greatest strength this year?
"Having a successful program over the years," said veteran head coach Charlie Robinson.
Seven players are full-time varsity members, and four are seniors. The KouGars have lost six seniors to graduation during the past two years.
"We have a winning attitude and a successful program," Robinson said. "We are having pretty good thoughts about the season."
Jared Miller is the only returning senior starter from last season. Junior Joey Stuart is the only other returning starter.
Miller shot 60 percent from 2-point land last season. Stuart shot 67 percent from the free throw line last year, the highest of the returners.
Eric Hanson, Eric Marshall, and Justin Antonich are the other seniors on the roster.
Antonich at forward, T.J. Ironbear at center, and Justin Simonsen, a 5-foot-8 transfer from Big Sandy at guard, are three new faces to the KouGar lineup.
Simonsen and Ironbear are both strong junior presences on varsity.
"We are looking at a multitude of variations to see who will fill the correct roles," Robinson said. "So, that may change from time to time."
Miller and Ironbear led the offensive attack in the opening 68-37 loss to non-conference Dutton on Dec. 10. Miller scored 12 and Ironbear 11 in the contest.
Stuart and Simonsen joined Ironbear in the scoring fest Saturday, as they tallied 25, 10, and 14 points, respectively, in the 77-44 rout over the non-conference J-I Rams.
Juniors Scott Dees, Drew Thackeray, and Alex Billmayer, sophomores Deven Donoven, Matt Aageson, Aaron Smith, Roger Larson, and Tel Sterner, and freshmen Casey Crites and Tyler Kapperud highlight the junior varsity roster.
"We are using the sub varsity to develop players and get them going in the right stage so they can fill a varsity role," Robinson said. "We have 24 boys out this season, so we are looking for the chance for our younger kids to keep improving and see if we can get them some playing time on the varsity level."
Offensively, the KouGars will naturally try to convert on the fast break, and attempt to control the game tempo throughout the season. KG will mix up defenses, both full and half-court.
KG will play at Box Elder on Thursday, Dec. 16, in a conference matchup. They will host Blue Sky in conference play Friday to sew up the December schedule.
The KouGars will return to action Friday, Jan. 7, when they host District 10-C Chester in a rematch of last season's state championship game.
KG Boys' Basketball Schedule