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WCA boys loaded with talent and experience

The West Central Area boys’ basketball team lost an all-conference player in Drew Peterson off of last year’s team but returns a lot of talent with the hopes of contending atop the conference and section field.

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Peterson averaged 11 points, five rebounds, four assists and four steals per game a year ago. Those are some big shoes to fill, but the Knights have the luxury of having five players return from their main rotation.

Dakotah Kashmark is the catalyst of that group. The senior guard is already a two-time all-conference player after averaging 15 points, six rebounds and four assists as a junior. Senior Brady Combs (8 PPG, 4 RPG) and junior Jay Zimmerman (10 PPG, 7 RPG) also return with a lot of experience behind them. Seniors Andrew Lindor and Austin Redepenning also were a part of the rotation a year ago.

“We return some good basketball players but this group of players are also really good people,” 18-year head coach Kraig Hunter said. “They are enjoyable to be around and coach, and they have good cohesiveness. Our main goals are to play consistently hard every day in practice and games, to play together, to be a good communicating team, to play smart basketball and to play with poise.”

The Knights also return a host of other players who will all try to add depth to the varsity team. Included in that are senior Jared Oachs and juniors Austin Hennen, Devin Nelson and Hunter Pfingsten, who were also letter winners a year ago.

“They will all contribute and bring different assets to the team,” Hunter said. “We should have a good combination of ways to score between post players, slashers, penetrators and shooters. For us to be a good team, I think we really have to focus on rebounding the ball on both ends of the floor and to take good care of the basketball on offense.”

West Central Area will have to compete with a very talented team in Upsala at the top of the Prairie Conference. The Cardinals return conference MVP Christian Pekarek and all-conference player Dylan Zimmerman from a 31-2 team, as well as a host of talented players who played junior varsity last winter. Pekarek recently signed with Bemidji State to play basketball in college next year. Browerville, Long Prairie, Swanville and St. John’s Prep are also teams who Hunter thinks can compete in the top half of the league.

Battle Lake returns almost everyone from a 22-6 team that went to the state tournament out of the 6A field a year ago. That sets the Battlers up to be the favorites once again this winter.

“They had no seniors starting last year,” Hunter said. “They have all the parts - athleticism, length and shooting. They are definitely the favorite.”

Ortonville is new to the section and a team that Hunter sees as a contender. Clinton-Graceville-Beardsley, Wheaton and Ashby also have talent returning.

WCA BOYS’ BASKETBALL SENIORS – Austin Redeppening, G; Dakotah Kashmark, G; Brady Combs, F; Andrew Lindor, F/C; Jared Oachs, C

JUNIORS – Austin Hennen, G; Hunter Pfingsten, G; Devin Nelson, F; Jay Zimmerman, C

SOPHOMORES – Ben Anderson, F

FRESHMEN – Isaiah Westby, G

COACHES – Head coach – Kraig Hunter – 18th season, 226-193; Assistant coaches – Arick Follingstad, Eric Schoenbauer

Eric Morken

Eric Morken is the sports and outdoor editor at the Echo Press and Osakis Review newspapers in Douglas County, MN. Follow him on Twitter at echo_sports.

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