LITTLE RIVER – For the 2022-23 season, the Little River boys basketball program is counting on a sizable number of players returning with game time playing time experience to push the team beyond sub-state and into the run for a Class 1A Division I state title.
After struggling through a 2021-22 season where injuries hampered the first month of the season, the Redskins eventually righted the ship under their first-year head coach and finished as runner-up in their sub-state tournament.
Returning to lead the Little River boys from the bench for his second season will be head coach Erik Base. In his first season, Base led the team to an overall record of 16-7 while going unbeaten and winning the league championship for the Wheat State League before losing to Macksville in their sub-state championship game. Coach Base will once again have former McPherson College head coach Roger Trimmell assisting him.
“We were hobbled by injuries for the first part of the 2021-22 season,” explained coach Base. “We had two starters out before the Christmas break, with another watching the minutes they played. After we got healthy, we were able to install our system during the Christmas break. We had a bunch of kids that had to step up into roles that they probably did not necessarily know they were going to have to fill. We were very proud of the kids and thought we learned and gained a ton of experience because of those situations.”
What coach Base will have to do is replace a pair of key players who graduated in Allen Burrola and Kyle Bruce. The two combined to score 11.1 points and grab 7.7 rebounds a game last season.
The positive for the upcoming season is the six Little River players returning with enough game time playing experience to where they averaged putting 44 points and 16 rebounds per game into the stat sheets per game played last season.
Returning to be the senior leader for 2022-23 will be Braxton Lafferty, a six-foot-one guard/forward who put an average of 16 points, six rebounds and three steal per game into his stat sheet last season. Lafferty also earned first-team all-league honors as well as second-team or honorable mention all-state honors by four media agencies.
Also returning after earning first-team all-league and a few honorable state honors last season is five-foot-ten Redskin senior, Dalton Mantz, who averaged six points, four rebounds, and five assists per game last season from his point guard position.
Other key Little River players retuning will be senior six-foot forward Rylan Konen (7 points/4 rebounds), senior forward Treyton Olander (6 points, 2.3 rebounds), six-foot-three junior forward Andrew Smith and six-foot sophomore guard Logan Renken.
Coach Base talked about Smith and Renken during his pre-season reflections, saying, “(Andrew) Smith played some varsity minutes last season and we are looking for him to have a great year while Renken played as a freshman where he gained confidence in his shot and bought in on the defensive side of our game.”
One particular newcomer that the coaching staff looks to add to the mix will be senior guard transfer Kayston Cox who previously played at Lyons.
“I am very excited to get back to work with this group as we will return a lot of minutes this year and think it has the potential to be a fun year,” noted coach Base. “With the amount of seniors we have with playing experience, expectations will be high and we will expect them to lead us the right way. I feel like some of our guys were forced to play a ton of minutes last year, had to take some bumps and bruises, but they were good for us and gave us an opportunity to learn from our mistakes.”
Base then concluded his pre-season reflections by adding, “We had a great summer and the success these kids have had through football only helps their confidence and strengthens our team.”
Little River will open their 2022-23 season on Friday, December 2, at home against Lincoln.
(The Staff covering McPherson County Activities can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org)