LITTLE RIVER BOYS FOUND YOUTHFUL SUCCESS
LITTLE RIVER – After a shaky start to the 2019-20 basketball season, the Little River boys closed out the season on a 17-1 run to close out the season with an overall mark of 23-3 which included a round one 65-46 victory over St. Francis at the Class 1A state tournament.
Opening the season with two losses in the first seven games, one to Elyria Christian (42-40) and one to Salina Sacred Heart (62-59) was maybe expected as the Redskin players were not only young, but were being introduced to a new coach in Wayne Morrow.
“The season started out a little shaky as we didn’t know the best plan for this team and there was some lack of trust between the coaches and players until we figured a few things out,” noted veteran Coach Wayne Morrow in his return to the bench. “We lost our second game of the year after being ranked second by the Kansas Basketball Coaches Association at the beginning of the season. But we, the entire team, knew that we were not number two at that time, but our goal was to be the best we could be by the end.”
At the beginning of the season the Redskins didn’t have a lot of depth while returning just two players with much varsity experience. Coach Morrow and his assistant, former McPherson College Head Coach Roger Trimmell, also had to deal with some kids that didn’t go out for basketball and one who was out due to an injury suffered during the football season.
As Coach Morrow explained, “We began the season starting three juniors and two freshmen while having all 13 players on the roster being underclassman, our baker’s dozen.”
When talking about the final record for the season, Coach Morrow added, “We ended up 23-3 overall and unbeaten at 9-0 in Wheat State League play. As we built some trust, found some things that worked best for this team, I felt we got better and better throughout the year and we were playing our best basketball of the year at the end of the season.”
Despite being young, several Redskins played like grizzled veterans by the end of the year including several who more than earned their worth on the court such as:
- Jayden Garrison, just a junior, who recently earned player of the year for Class 1A by a couple of reporting networks while also gaining first-team All-Class 1A across the board and unanimous all-league honors as well. Garrison led the team in scoring with 534 points overall for an average of 23.2 points per game while also pulling down 136 rebounds of which 108 were on the defensive boards. Garrison also led the team in three-pointers made with 69 on his way to making 51% of his shots from the field.
- Trey Rolfs, another junior, was also named first-team all-league while also being named second-team all-Class 1A. Rolfs finished second on the team in scoring with 347 points for a 13.9 per game average and led the Redskins in rebounds with 156 which included 71 on the offensive end and 86 on the defensive side.
- Braxton Lafferty, just a freshman, was the third Redskin to make first team all-league while also garnering several honorable mentions for all-Class 1A. Lafferty was third on the team in scoring with 247 points for a game average of 9.9. Lafferty also averaged 4.5 rebounds per game.
Besides the top three Redskins, Coach Morrow did not hold back on praises for two other players, saying, “I must note that Keaton Richardson (yet another junior) was a very valuable piece to this team as he was our best and most consistent defensive guy. In our last two game he held our opponent’s top players to zero and seven points during the sub-state championship and first round of the state tournament. He only averaged six points a game as it seems that only the offense gets the recognition, but without Keaton and his consistent energy, this team would not have achieved at its highest level. Another who stepped up was Rylan Konen, just a freshman, he understood when he had to step up, especially in games where Jayden was out with sickness or not a full strength. Rylan also was assigned to our opponents’ biggest player most games. One big key for me as a coach is to establish some balance on the team as I have never had successful teams when we rely on just one or two players. All players must have understanding to their important roles and these two players did just that.”
With the season cut short at the beginning of the state tournament, the Redskin fans never had the chance to see the state semi-final matchup between their team and St. John. So now the question is, just what heights can the Redskins reach in the 2020-21 season as they should have everyone returning.
Coach Morrow closed out his post-season reflections by answering that question, “We are trying to establish a more positive culture for the boys’ basketball team here at Little River. We will have everyone back, all 13 players, but we need others involved – especially as a Class 1A school. I’d like to establish more depth, and I hope our returning players will work during the off season. Some things worked well and fell into place this year, but that sure doesn’t determine success next year.”
LITTLE RIVER REDSKINS FINAL TEAM STAT LEADERS:
Leaders in Points Scored: Jayden Garrison – 534; Trey Rolfs – 347; Braxton Lafferty – 247; Rylan Konen – 135; Keaton Richardson – 123.
Points Per Game Leaders: Jayden Garrison – 23.2; Trey Rolfs – 13.9; Braxton Lafferty – 9.9; Rylan Konen – 5.4; Keaton Richardson – 4.9.
Leaders in Field Goal %: Jayden Garrison – 51%; Trey Rolfs – 44%.
Leaders in 3-Pointers Made: Jayden Garrison – 69; Trey Rolfs – 34; Keaton Richardson – 23.
Total Rebounds Leaders (Off/Def): Trey Rolfs – 156 (71/85); Jayden Garrison – 136 (26/108); Braxton Lafferty – 112 (34/78); Rylan Konen – 94 (40/54).
Assists Per Game: Jayden Garrison – 2.6; Trey Rolfs, Braxton Lafferty, Keaton Richardson – 1.6.