By Tiffany L. Rehbein
Can coaches such as Dennis Murphy, Brett Hamilton, Scott Filius, and Barry Kato hold off the young hot shots in this year's Faculty-Senior Basketball game?
The answer can be seen Friday, at 7 p.m., when the two teams go head-to-head at Havre High School.
"For the faculty to win, we need to slow down," Hamilton said. "We need to move the ball around. But, we are all a bunch of old gunners, so we will see if that happens."
Hamilton was the sophomore coach for the boys' basketball team this winter.
The faculty, who boasts a 33-2 record against the seniors, could just look at years past and see what had been done to lead to those victories. Since 1965, when ex-New York Knick Ray Kuka started the tradition, the faculty has lost just twice.
In 1993, Jason Wirt led the seniors to a win, and, in 1997, David Curtiss led the seniors to the title.
Last year, the faculty won, 84-82.
When the faculty last lost, it was because the seniors recruited basketball players, not "cronies," Murphy said, referring to the friends of players on the team who did not have any refined hooping skills.
This year's senior team highlights seven players who played under Murphy during their senior year.
Six-foot-3 Landon Grant is a fine inside player who is strong on the rebound. He was a starting post player for the Blue Ponies this season.
Six-foot-3 Jesse Suek was a great role player for the Ponies and looks to be tough inside against the faculty.
Nate Baltrusch is quick off the dribble with his young legs. He also has some hops and can snatch a board or dish an assist.
Ricky Brown is a quality 3-point shooter, who will be looking to score. He is also quick on the fast break.
Six-foot-4 Cliff Cooper is big inside for the seniors, while Chris Young is quick outside at the guard position.
Drew Bracken, Nick Newell, Kellen Malone, Doug Kallenberger, and Dave Heberly round out the senior roster.
Bracken and Heberly are strong players who were tough on the football field last fall. Newell was a fine wrestler who has also shown some baseball skills.
Malone is a stellar tennis player who could surprise some people on the court. Kallenberger is an rodeo athlete who has signed to play football at Northern in the fall, and who has some Blue Pony basketball experience.
Willie Hulett and Jay Rucinsky will coach the seniors.
The Blue Pony boys' coaching staff of Murphy, Hamilton, and Mark West and part of the girls' coaching staff with John Barnhorst should look to lead the faculty team.
Murphy has been running every day to stay in shape, while West has been on the track coaching in the spring. Kato, who has been helping with the Northern football program, had been spotted at Havre Central playing some pick-up ball games to keep his game sharp this winter.
Scott Filius brought his wrestling buddy Chris Faber into the lineup, while John Ita, Dave Barta and Doug Mack should look to play well for the faculty.
Rob Watson and David Boles will be officiating the matchup.
Admission is $1 at the door or one can of food. All proceeds to go the Northside Food Bank, which has received more than 2,200 pounds of food during the past nine years.