BY JOHN BOHNENKAMP
DONNELLSON – Evan Swanson has an experienced team.
Now the Central Lee High School boys basketball coach is hoping that can translate into wins.
The Hawks have won just six games over the last two seasons. But with a 10-player varsity roster that will have eight seniors, Swanson thinks his team can be competitive in the difficult SEI Superconference South Division.
“We have the playing experience, but we lack winning experience,” Swanson said. “Can we do some of the small things to win games? That’s something we need to do.”
It’s a tall team — three players are 6-foot-3 or taller.
“I’m going to be upset if we lose any rebounding battles, with our height and the aggressive way we play,” Swanson said.
Four starters are back from last season’s 4-18 team.
Bronson Sargent, the Hawks’ leading scorer the last two seasons, is back after averaging 13.6 points last season.
“Having him back will be a huge benefit for us,” Swanson said of the 6-foot-2 senior.
Dylan Stuecker, a 6-0 senior, averaged 7.6 points and was second on the team with 52 field goals last season.
“He’s one of our best leaders,” Swanson said.
Derick Denning, the tallest Hawk at 6-5, will anchor the frontcourt.
“He’s got the height we need, and the experience,” Swanson said.
Kaleb Sanders, a 6-foot-3 senior, has added a mid-range shot to his game. “He’s developed into a good shooter,” Swanson said.
Kade Myhre, a 5-11 senior guard, is another varsity veteran.
“He can slash and get to the rim, and we need that,” Swanson said.
Two new players are seniors Jaedon and Jaxon Betker.
“Jaxon is just a natural ballplayer,” Swanson said. “Very intelligent, very hard working. He sees the floor very well. So he adds an important new element.
“Jaedon is a good defender. He’s a scrappy player who can make shots, and can hit the floor for a loose ball.”
Alex Sandoval, a 5-10 junior, is an important part of the Hawks’ backcourt.
“He’s just a solid athlete,” Swanson said. “Great basketball IQ. He’s got some starting experience, but he can play a lot of roles for us.”
Sophomore Corbin Pohren will also provide help off the bench. Seth Mayes, a 6-3 senior, is out until after Christmas break because of an illness.
“We’re going to be relying on the experience of the last couple of seasons,” Swanson said. “I’m really confident going into this season that we can be a tough team that can compete in a tough conference.”