Defending champ Burros have new names, new look
Hillsboro-Central Valley's boys basketball team is planning to build off success—not on the court so much as in other sports.
The Burros are defending North Dakota Class B state high school basketball champions, beating Four Winds-Minnewaukan 63-60 in the state final last March on Kyle Henningsgard's 3-pointer at the buzzer. They host Kindred in their season opener Saturday.
Henningsgard and fellow starters Austin Reed, Tanner Linnell and Benjamin Dryburgh graduated. Senior Jack Camrud is the lone returning starter, while sophomore Carson Henningsgard and senior Cade Baesler played in reserve roles.
"It's basically a whole new team,'' H-CV coach Elliot Rotvold said.
"I think the success they had in their fall sports is a bigger factor (than the 2017 basketball title). You build off that confidence they've gained in the fall.''
All the key basketball players were on either the H-CV Class A state champion football team or the state runner-up cross country team.
"They (state titles) were both pretty awesome,'' said Camrud, an all-state football player. "Any time you have success, you want to keep improving on it.''
Ryan Troftgruben, Tyler Bergstrom, Nick Preston, Guy Suchor, Landen Reed and Andrew Cooper are expected to step into the rotation. Several players are in the 6-foot-4 to 6-6 height range.
"Last year we were a more guard-oriented team,'' Rotvold said. "We'll be more long and athletic, a little more post oriented.
"I don't think we'll play slower. Our big kids are athletic. We might be a little more patient in our halfcourt offense. We lost most of our outside shooters. That's where we'll have to find some things.''
While the Burros don't enter the season with an experienced group like they did last season, neither are they a young team. Seven seniors play, many who had significant roles on last season's 19-1 junior varsity team.
"We had six seniors in our rotation last year,'' Rotvold said. "These guys have been waiting for their chance to play. They've had success in basketball. But, for most of them, it hasn't been on the varsity level.''
Rotvold looks at Thompson, a team that lost 64-57 in overtime to the Burros in last season's Region 2 championship, and Grafton as top contenders in what figures to be a deep region field.
FW-M injuries mount
Four Winds-Minnewaukan, which played in the state championship game three straight seasons and four of the last five—winning the 2016 title—is in rebuild mode.
Four starters graduated from last season's team. The fifth, Charlie Black, is out for the season with a knee injury. Doug Yankton, a top reserve last season, and Dedrick Robertson, who missed last season due to a knee injury, both are coming back from knee injuries.
"We have almost zero varsity experience,'' FW-M coach Rick Smith said. "We still have very good basketball players. We'll still be competitive, but it might take us awhile.''
Frank Gourd and Gionni Robertson are the lone players with any varsity experience. Smith may have eighth-grader Jayden Yankton and 6-9 freshman Bronson Lawrence in the starting lineup.