Editor's Note: The 2017-18 KSHSAA basketball season tips off this week. This is the second of a series of stories taking a look at Telegram area teams' returning players, newcomers and outlook for the season.
Coach: Iric Mawhirter, 2nd season with the Bluejays (13-9 overall)
2016-17 record: 13-9
Returning starters: Jaylen Pickle, Sr., 6-7, F, 11 PPG, 6 RPG, 2 BPG.
Top Newcomers: RJ Thomas, So., 6-1, G; Jayden Perkins, So., 5-9, G; Jesus Aguilar, Sr., 5-11, G.
Outlook: The Cimarron Bluejays lost four starters from last year, and the sole returning player is senior Jaylen Pickle, who was selected to the all-league first team last season. With the loss of four seniors, head coach Iric Mawhirter, who is entering his second season as Bluejay coach, knows he will have a youth movement to fill his roster.
“Having to replace four starters due to graduation means we lack varsity experience, but we have a group of underclassmen that were very successful at the JV level ready to fill the void,” Mawhirter said.
Since the team is young, Mawhirter will look at his two seniors for leadership and good play.
“Senior Jaylen Pickle will once again provide a strong post presence along with fellow senior forward Alec Coast,” Mawhirter said. “Overall, a lot of success this season will depend on developing chemistry as a team, and giving a consistent effort night in and night out.”
Coach: David Ediger, 12th season at Cimarron (226-53 overall)
2016-17 record: 17-6
Returning starters: Taylor Jantz, Jr., 5-7, G; Cameren Bartlett, Jr., 5-9, F; Mikaela Pachner, Sr., 5-8, C.
Top Newcomers: Kacee Coast, So., 5-8, F; Mallory Coast, So., 5-7, G; Jaira Osborn, So., 5-6; G; Eroca Macias, So., 56, G.
Outlook: Entering his 12th season at Cimarron, David Ediger and the Bluejays are looking to match the high success the program has reached in recent years.
“We should be very athletic, and our overall team speed should be improved from last season,” Ediger said. “If we decide to really compete on the boards on both ends we could be tough.”
Ediger has three returning starters from last season, one of which is junior Taylor Jantz, who was named first team all-league last year and was an all-state honorable mention.
“We return the bulk of our scoring from last year's team in Taylor, Cameren and Mikaela,” Ediger said. “We are going to have to find some guards to step up and play on the varsity level.”
Coach: Nate Schmitt, 4th year with the Broncs (35-29 overall)
2016-17 record: 8-13 (5-3 in league)
Returning starters: Diego Davila, Sr., 6-0 PG, 12 PPG, 5 RPG, 1 APG; Hunter Kirby, Sr., 6-1, SG, 15 PPG, 3 RPG, 1 APG; Dawsen Shalberg, SR., 6-0, G, 9 PPG, 3 RPG, 1 APG.
Top Newcomers: Fernando Chavez, Sr., 5-8; Khai Hernandez, Sr., 6-3; Dominick Daniels, Fr., 6-1; Juan Banuelos, Jr., 5-7; John Wright, JR., 5-8; CLay Michel, Sr., 5-10, Jacob Esquivel, Sr., 6-3; Harad Geven, Sr., 6-5.
Outlook: After a one-year stint in Junction City, head coach Nate Schmitt returns to Lakin to not only be the head basketball coach but athletic director, as well.
“We return a lot of experience,” Schmitt said of his Broncs, who went 8-13 a year ago.
The Broncs will be returning three starters from last season, two of which, were named to postseason teams last season. Both Hunter Kirby and Diego Davila were named to the first team all-league team.
All three seniors have a massive amount of experience, as all of them played under Schmitt during his first stint as head coach.
“Three of the returners have started since their sophomore year,” Schmitt said. “We will be very guard oriented and are going to play a very fast, up tempo style.”
Coach: Vanessa Esquibel, 1st season
2016-17 record: 5-16 (2-6 in league)
Returning starters: Lizzy Webb, Sr., 5-10; Jennifer Crum, Jr., 5-4.
Outlook: The Lakin Broncs will look to improve from their 5-16 record from last year with first-year head coach Vanessa Esquibel at the helm.
The Broncs will look to have young players step up and help the team out as they only return two starters from last season, senior Lizzy Webb and junior Jennifer Crum.
Stanton County Trojans
Coach: Trevor Siebert, 5th year with the Trojans (33-52 overall record at Stanton County)
2016-17 record: 7-14
Returning starters: Riley Cook, So., 5-5, G, 10.3 PPG, 3.5 RPG; Meleny Jacome, Sr., 5-6, G/C, 2.4 PPG, 4.2 RPG.
Top Newcomers: Peyton Peterson, Fr.; Jordyn Tucker, Fr.; Jordyn Snook, Fr.; Kenia Caro, Fr.
Outlook: The Stanton County Trojans will be young, to say the least. They will be returning only two starters from last year’s team, sophomore Riley Cook, who was an all-league honorable mention last season, and senior Meleny Jacome.
Head coach Trevor Siebert knowns that he will be looking for younger players to contribute to the team.
“Our team will have a lot of new faces with a majority of the roster consisting of freshmen and sophomores,” he said. “I’m expecting four freshmen to see some playing time.”
What the Trojans lack in experience, they make up in energy and are wanting the chance to play at a high level, he said.
“We have a group of girls that are very competitive, and eager for the chance to play varsity basketball,” Siebert said.
Coach: Lance Carter, 3rd season with the Larks (11-31 overall)
2016-17 record: 6-15
Returning starters: None
Top Newcomers: Tyler Isaac, Jr., 5-10, G; Izzy DeLaRosa, Jr., 5-10, G; Jaren Giesick, Jr., 5-8, PG; James Garetson, Jr., 6-1, F, Carson Thornton, So., 5-10, G; Dlan Watson, So., 6-1, F.
Outlook: The Sublette Larks will look to, essentially, start from scratch this upcoming season as the Larks will return no starters from last season and have little experience from any returning players on the varsity level.
“We will be an extremely young team this season,” said third-year head coach Lance Carter. “Only two of our returners saw real varsity competition last season.”
Carter will look to return to basics to try to give his team a shit this season.
“Our success will depend on how well we defend and rebound,” he said. “We will need to execute offensively at a high level.”
With no starters returning this year, Carter will look at the younger players to really embrace the moment and improve as the season goes along.
“We will need some younger guys to step into a leadership roles. I am excited to see how this team can grow throughout the season,” Carter said.
Coach: Andrea Ardery, 5th season with the Larks (46-43 overall)
2016-17 record: 16-7
Returning starters: Mia Kells, Jr., 6-1, 11.4 PPG, 8.2 RPG, 3.5 BPG; Bekah Unruh, So., 5-11, 4.7 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 1.2 SPG, 1.6 APG; Mercedes Martinez, Jr., 5-6, 7.6 PPG, 5.9 RPG, 2.0 SPG, 2.9 APG; Shelby Thornton, Jr., 5-6, 1.7 PPG, 2.4 RPG, 1.8 APG.
Newcomer: Isabella Desaire, Fr., 5-4.
Outlook: The Sublette Larks are hoping that the third time's the charm, as they have lost to Meade in two consecutive years in the sub-state championship game.
Head coach Andrea Ardery is hoping that her fifth season as the head coach for the Larks will be the first time they reach the state tournament since 2008.
“The work ethic, attitude and mindset of this team reflect their hunger to improve on last year’s season,” Ardery said
The Larks will have a strong experienced core as four starters return from last season. Two of the returning starters were named to some postseason honors last season as junior Mia Kells was named all-league second team and sophomore Bekah Unruh was named first team all-league last season.
Ardery is excited for what her team can accomplish this upcoming season.
“With a great nucleus to lead the way, these Lady Larks have high expectations for the season ahead,” she said. “This team has come together early this season to commit to making this team the best it can be this year.”
Coach: Bryce Simon, 5th year with the Bulldogs (41-63 overall record at Syracuse)
2016-17 record: 13-8 (5-3 in league)
Returning starters: Kendi Keller, Sr., 5-9, G, 12 PPG, 4 RPG, 1 APG; Emily Finlay, Sr., 5-6, G, 5 PPG, 3 RPG, 1 APG.
Outlook: The Syracuse Bulldogs improved last year from a losing season in 2015-2016, but are trying to rebound from a disappointing ending to their season, when they lost a home sub-state tournament game.
“We are looking to build off a very successful 216-2017 season that saw a lot of success for our program,” head coach Bryce Simon said.
Although the Bulldogs are looking to build on some success from last season, they will look to do so without some of their starters.
“We lost three very important players to our program that had been staples for the previous four years, but we do return some experienced players that can lead us,” Simon said. “We have a lot of young girls that are hungry and ready to step into larger roles.”
Not everyone is new as the Bulldogs return two starters in seniors Kendi Keller, second team all-league, and Emily Finlay.
“…we are hoping that will set us up for another successful season in 2017-18 that will see us take another step (or 2) closer to where we would like this program to be,” said Simon of his expectations for his team this season.