By The Telegram

It will be a youthful and inexperienced team that steps onto the floor for Satanta Indians coach Jared Wenta this year.

Gone are the bulk of starters from last year's team that posted an 8-14 record. Included in that group of departures is 5-8 guard Brady Merz, who transferred to Holcomb and will play for the Longhorns.

Wenta does have some decent size returning, though, in his two senior returning starters 6-3 forward Eric Essix (6.5 points, 6.7 rebounds) and 6-2 guard/forward Dylan Freeman (two points, two rebounds).

"We are young but the kids are competitive," Wenta said. "They try not to be out-worked on the basketball court."

Top newcomers that Wenta will be counting on for depth include 6-4 senior forward Wyatt Miller, 5-7 senior guard Michael Young, and juniors Moises Chavez (6-0 forward) and Shaun Bauer (5-6 guard).

"The kids take pride in defense and that will really help us this year," Wenta said.

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After a summer of weight training and plenty of basketball, the Satanta Lady Indians hope this season could be the breakthrough.

"We return all five starters and two other experienced reserves," fourth-year head coach Mike Heater said. "The team worked hard over the summer and had a winning summer season. The top seven returners are all enrolled in weight training, so we hope to be more athletic and physical this year."

Coming off a 9-13 season a year ago, Satanta's experience that returns gives them a boost. It all starts with junior point guard Kelsey Blair, who earned All Hi-Plains League honors last season after averaging 13 points, three steals and 3.5 assists. Seniors guard Keyla Thacker and forward Shelby Connor have started the last three years and junior Aubree Young, is back following a sophomore season in which she averaged 12 points and 8.5 rebounds. Junior guard Minerba Gonzalez is the other returning starter.

"We expect great leadership and more scoring from four-year starters Keyla Thacker and Shelby Connor," Heater said. "The majority of our offense should come from our inside-outside combo of Aubree Young and Kelsey Blair. Minerba Gonzalez is one of our top defenders and has an improving offensive game. I've also been really impressed with the play and hustle of both Allee Young and Stephanie Caro in practices."

Allee Young the younger sister of Aubree and Caro both will provide experience off the bench.

Heater said the main focus this season will be on defense. Last year the Lady Indians gave up 55 points a game.

"We gave up too many points last year, and if we are going to have a winning season we have to improve in this area."


Satanta Indians

Class: 1A

League: Hi-Plains

Coach: Jared Wenta (2nd year)

2008-2009 Record: 8-14

Returning Starters: Eric Essix (6-3, Sr., F); Dylan Freeman (6-2, Sr., G/F)

Top Newcomers: Wyatt Miller (6-4, Sr., F); Michael Young (5-7, Sr., G); Moises Chavez (6-0, Jr., F); Shaun Bauer (5-6, Jr., G)

Satanta Lady Indians

Class: 1A

League: Hi-Plains

Coach: Mike Heater, 4th year

2008-2009 Record: 9-13

Returning starters: Kelsey Blair (5-6, PG, Jr.); Keyla Thacker (5-6, G, Sr.); Shelby Connor (5-8, F, Sr.); Aubree Young (5-9, F, Jr.); Minerba Gonzalez (5-1, G, Jr.)

Key returners and newcomers: Stephanie Caro (5-6, F-G, Jr.); Allee Young (5-7, F, So.); Kristy Blair (5-2, G, Fr.)