After a tough overtime loss to Hancock in the Section 6A tournament a year ago, the Parkers Prairie boys basketball team is looking to put together another winning season in 2021.

Seniors Micah Arens and Florian Koep will help lead the Panthers this winter. The two shot well from three-point range in their junior seasons, but the Panthers will have to make up the deficit in losing lead guard Alex Koep.

Alex was a spark plug on both sides of the floor during his high school career. Big man Josh Helling is another important piece Parkers Prairie has to replace from last year’s 21-7 team.

“The team we have in Parkers is very close,” head coach Mike Felt said. “They play well as a group, and they are very unselfish. The coaches they have had growing up since youth basketball have done a great job of instilling a team-first attitude. All of our players pass the ball well and find the open teammate. I think teams will find it challenging to defend us this year because you cannot focus on one or two players but need to defend our scheme as a whole.”

Bringing back veterans who earned playing time will help cope with the losses from a year ago.

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“We are returning players who played big minutes last year, which is always a big part of being a successful team,” Felt said. “But a big key to this year’s success is going to be the performance and growth of some young players on the roster. If they can continue to grow and improve day in and day out, we will be tough this season.”

Even though the years change, the goals stay the same in Parkers Prairie. Like every team, the Panthers will have to adjust to playing with masks on and without big crowds providing an emotional boost each night, but Parkers Prairie has hopes of being right in the thick of the Little Eight Conference and Section 6A races once again.

“Our expectation every year is to compete for a conference and a section championship,” Felt said. “We like to set our expectations and goals high so that we are always pushing to get better and be the best team we can be by the time playoffs roll around. It will be fun to see what this group can do this year. There are a lot of new faces, but they are competitive kids that love basketball.”

2021 PARKERS PRAIRIE BOYS BASKETBALL

SENIORS - Micah Arens, Owen Hezlep, Brendan Johnson, Florian Koep, Thomas Potts, Lewis Swedal, Riley Thoennes

JUNIORS - Cole Gesell, Blake Guenther, Cole Koep, Jackson Lynch, Hayden Noska, Carter Thoennes, Jacob Wagner

SOPHOMORES - Mason Arens, Ryder Ashbaugh, Caden DeBoer, Benjamin Harrington, Gus Johnson, Ross Kortenbusch, Samuel Schneider

FRESHMEN - Dylan Debilzen, Kayden Leininger, Nathan Mohrman, Cohen Noska, John O’Brien, Brayden Reiman, Seth Sansness, Landon Wagner

PARKERS PRAIRIE BOYS BASKETBALL SCHEDULE

Jan. 15 vs. Brandon-Evansville, 7:15 p.m.

Jan. 18 vs. Hancock, 7:15 p.m.

Jan. 22 at Hillcrest Lutheran, 7:15 p.m.

Jan. 26 vs. Battle Lake, 7:15 p.m.

Jan. 29 vs. Underwood, 7:15 p.m.

Feb. 5 vs. Rothsay, 7:15 p.m.

Feb. 9 vs. WCA, 7:15 p.m.

Feb. 12 at Ashby, 7:15 p.m.

Feb. 16 at Brandon-Evansville, 7:15 p.m.

Feb. 19 vs. Hillcrest Lutheran, 7:15 p.m.

Feb. 23 at Battle Lake, 7:15 p.m.

Feb. 26 at Underwood, 7:15 p.m.

March 1 vs. Swanville, 7:15 p.m.

March 4 at Rothsay, 7:15 p.m.

March 6 at Henning, 2:30 p.m.

March 8 at LPGE, 7:15 p.m.

March 11 vs. Ashby, 7:15 p.m.