Boys basketball at Enterprise High School is looking for a little redemption this season. Despite having eight seniors on the squad, the team limped to a 3-5 league record and 9-13 overall last year.
Coach Larry Wells is optimistic. He has 23 boys in the basketball program, of which he’ll roster 12 or 13 for the varsity. The team is also returning to the Blue Mountain League after a two-year absence.
The new program is composed of eight freshmen, three sophomores, six juniors and six seniors. Among major differences in this year’s squad is height.
“We’re going to be a little smaller at the post,” Wells said. “Overall this year, I have taller average height with my starting five. What we lose in height we’ll gain in shooting range and flexibility.” He added that at least two of this year’s players are in the 6-4 range and his shortest starter will likely be at least six feet.
Wells said that he felt the squad had been dealt a good hand this year in terms of talent, and that although the team would do some things differently, he doesn’t consider this season a rebuilding year.
“If we just keep moving forward, I like our chances this year,” he said.
The coach noted some new faces who may make some noise this year. That includes junior Cason Kirkland who the coach described as tall and athletic.
“I expect Dylan Marr, Cason and Coy Aschenbrenner to be big contributors this year,” Wells said. He also noted Garrett Thorne should contribute with aggressive rebounding and playing occasional post. Strong points for the squad include a core group that has played together for years. Wells has coached many of them since eighth grade, including his seniors.
“I’ve got five years in with them,” he said. “We’ve had highly successful JV seasons and great summer ball. I’ve got some kids that can shoot the ball pretty well. Overall, we’ll have better shooting and a little more mobility at the post.”
He also noted improvements needed on offensive rebounding and fewer turnovers.
“With our height, we need to make sure we have lock-out and take care of the basketball when we have it,” Wells said.
Wells said the team finished in third place in the league last year and he expects to finish at least that well this year in the new league. Though he isn’t as familiar with Heppner and Stanfield, he knows about the rest of the league from past meetings in preseason games. He also noted that this year’s schedule features a number of home games.
More than anything, what gives Wells confidence about the team’s play is its sense of unity.
“I feel like they’re going to play for each other this year, and they’re a close-knit group,” Wells said. “Whether we win or lose, I expect they’ll be able to stay together as a team and as a family.”