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Cougars on prowl for Wheat State supremacy

Staff writer

Centre High School boys’ basketball coach Richard Idleman has a reason to smile about his third season leading the Cougars.

After going 7-14 in his first season, the Cougars improved to finish 15-6 overall and second in the Wheat State League before being upended in the second round of substate by Little River last year.

Six seniors graduated, but Idleman has enough depth, quickness, and experience to keep the Cougars a threat to WSL supremacy as well as to Class 1A Division 1.

“This year’s team has the ability to experience a successful season,” Idleman said. “We’ll be a smaller team with the ability to get up and down the floor.”

That wasn’t too much of a problem a year ago. The Cougars averaged 55 points a game while limiting opponents to 50, scoring more than 60 points in seven games.

Back to run the offense is speedy 5-7 senior point guard Cole Srajer.

Srajer has the quickness and ball handling to spread defenses and create offense.

He has plenty of help in the backcourt with junior Xavier Espinosa and seniors CJ Thompson and Zach Barney providing depth.

Idleman has depth in the frontcourt, but not tremendous size.

At 6-4 and 225 pounds, senior Cody Svoboda is Idleman’s other returning starter and a load inside who is a scrapper.

Outside of Svoboda, there’s not a lot of size inside for the Cougars, leaving rebounding a possible concern.

Senior Max Svoboda’s size at 5-9 is more ideal for up top rather than down low, but he’s quick and plays hard on the glass.

Senior Austin Peterson and sophomores Braxton Smith and Jensen Riffel also will step in to support inside play.

“We will not be a team of size,” Idleman said. “This is where we’ll need to lean on our post players Cody, Max, Braxton, Austin, and Jensen in staying out of foul trouble while working to control the boards.”

What may be the biggest challenge for Idleman is how to balance out his roster to fill both the varsity and junior varsity teams.

“Conditioning is going to be really important to our team,” he said. “We have a scenario where we have a mixed nucleus; with that we need players to get time on the JV court as well as the varsity, so this will be a challenge.

“We have to come in with the right mindset, I believe, in general. Everybody in the program wants to improve and experience success; it’s just a question of how hard all of us, myself included, are committed to doing just that.”

Last modified Nov. 30, 2017

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