The 9-1 Flasher boys basketball team has had high expectations for this season.
“I think everybody was pretty excited,” senior forward Hunter Frederick said. “We all knew we could do something pretty special this year.”
It helps when your entire roster returns for a new campaign.
“You’re starting ahead of where you would be,” head coach Brian Nieuwsma said. “Usually, you have new kids at different spots, different roles. We’ve been able to take the kids we have. Their roles have expanded, and they’ve done a nice job adjusting, growing and getting better.”
The offense is balanced. They have low post threats in Cody Ruscheinsky and Hunter Frederick, and talented shooters in Jaron Reis, Garrett Hatzenbuhler and Brett Gabrielson. The junior Reis has gotten off to a hot start, shooting 49 percent from downtown.
But it’s not just a balanced scoring attack that’s led to so many wins.
“We’ve been able to finish more in the closer games we’ve been in,” Frederick said. “Last year we lost most of those.”
“We’ve gained a lot of experience,” junior guard Jaron Reis said, “and I think that really helps when it comes down to situations like that.”
The only blemish has been a loss to Shiloh Christian, a game in which Flasher erased an 18-point deficit in a single quarter, but fell short down the stretch.
“We scratched and clawed in that game,” Reis said, “and we’re looking forward to seeing them again in the regular season.”
To make it to their first state tournament as a group, this roster knows they’ll have to continue to scratch and claw, but the trust they have in each other makes a regional title a very reachable goal.
“Playing together this long, you grow a bond,” Reis said. “It’s our year to do it, as some people have said. We really want to go farther in our regional tournament this year.”
The Bulldogs travel to Standing Rock on Friday afternoon.