BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
DONNELLSON - Kritter Hayes knows there are low expectations for his Central Lee boys basketball team this season.
It’s Hayes’ first season as the Hawks’ head coach, and he remembered what someone told him.
“I was told when I took the job to not expect to win a game for a year or two, and our guys have heard that too,” Hayes said.
And then right away to start the season, the Hawks battled with Van Buren before falling 49-42.
It’s all about getting better, Hayes said.
“We’re competing hard every day,” he said. “We’re showing improvement each day, and that’s the main thing.
“I’ve learned our guys are tough.”
It’s been a learning process for Hayes and his players.
“I think the biggest challenge is trying the right things to do to fit our personnel,” he said. “There are things I would like to do as a basketball program and as a coach, but we’re kind of limited right now.”
Hayes started three seniors — Alex Sandoval, Bryce Finney and Maddox Doty — and they are the cornerstones to what he is wanting to do.
“They’re just really stable,” Hayes said. “They don’t get high or low.”
Sophomore Cory Jones and freshman Brayden Wyrick also started, and they’re part of a nucleus of young players who are the future.
Hayes said the key right now is just getting small victories, the daily improvement that a new team needs to get better.
“If we can keep improving every day, that’s a sign that what we’re doing is working,” he said.
It’s about competing and finishing, two words that Hayes said are the foundation for the Hawks.
“We’ve told them there are nights it may not look we’re improving, but we are,” Hayes said. “The score may not reflect what we’re doing.
“We’re the underdogs, that’s fine. It’s OK, we’ll focus on what we can do.”
The Hawks begin a stretch of three games in five games on Friday at West Burlington.
“We’re on the right path,” Hayes said. “It’s going to be a tough path sometimes, but our guys are tough.”
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