Marion coach has high hopes for young team
The biggest challenges for Marion’s boys basketball this year will be developing depth and attention to detail.
The 17-member team is young and inexperienced, coach Donald Raymer said.
Top returning competitors are sophomores Cooper Bailey and Jack Lanning, junior Caden Wilhelm, and senior Campbell Winter.
“We have 11 players returning from last year, and have six players that are new to the squad — three seniors, one junior, and two freshmen,” Raymer said.
Raymer hopes to build from last year’s performance.
“Last year’s team went 5-15 but did a lot of good things considering it was our first year together,” Raymer said. “We also faced a lot of challenges getting started, then dealing with mass quarantines at the beginning of last season.”
Only six of last year’s team played varsity minutes consistently.
“We are wanting to develop more depth and feel really comfortable putting more players out on the court and playing at a high level,” the coach said.
During each day’s practice, team members work to make 600 to 1,000 shots.
“We have been spending a lot of time with shooting fundamentals, shooting drills, and playing five on five,” Raymer said. “As for rebounding, it is an effort thing in basketball and we have made that a point of emphasis this year more than ever.”
Despite persistent pressure from Raymer and coach Cody Coleman during practice, the team has kept working as hard as the coaches expect.
“The boys’ attitudes have been awesome; energy has been high; their effort has been awesome,” Raymer said. “I truly believe when your fall sports are successful, the winter sports feed off of it. This year, both Marion High School’s cross-country team and the football team had a great year, and the basketball team is a combination of both of those teams.”
Campbell, a senior, is a great leader, Raymer said, because he is smart, athletic, and a great teammate.
“He comes to practice and games with a purpose and a passion to compete and to get better each day,” the coach said.
Caden, a junior, was a young player last year and competed at the varsity level.
“He had to battle each day in practice last year, and that alone made him a better player,” Raymer said. “This summer he spent a lot of time developing his game, and it has shown here in the early stages of our season.”
Cooper, a sophomore, is stepping into a big role as a point guard this year, the coach said.
“He will be expected to get us into the right offense and to be a communicator on defense,” Raymer said.
Raymer said Cooper’s abilities on defense, ball-handling and shooting have all improved significantly.
Jack, a sophomore, is a natural leader who loves to compete and loves to work, Raymer said.
“Jack was a dual-sport athlete last year, and after wrestling, he finished the basketball season with us,” Raymer said.
The team will play 13 regular games, a four-day classic in Marion, a challenge in Conway Springs, a tournament in Marion, a four-day classic at Centre, and then looks forward to sub state and state competitions.