Kapaun Mount Carmel basketball: Following a winning season
Coach: John Cherne, second season
Last season: 16-9, won 5A title
Coach: Marvin Estes, second season (with coach mug)
Last season: 21-4, won 5A a title
During Kapauns first practices a year ago, boys coach John Cherne had to urge his players to push hard all the time. He had to challenge and work to get them to give all they had for the entire practice.
Hes had to do that less this preseason. The reason? Well, it certainly helped that Kapaun won the 2011-12 Class 5A title.
It gives me instant credibility, he said. All my practices are upbeat. Last year at this time I was trying to get them to go hard. I dont have to push them like that now.
Kapaun should have another strong season, despite graduating Michael Martin and Nick Cook.
This group really wants to succeed, Cherne said. As a group collectively, theyve experienced success and they want to improve on what they did last year. This group wants to make their own path, their own way.
Kapauns inside game will be a strength with senior Jeremy Licktieg (6-foot-6). Cherne expects Licktieg to be even more of a presence inside because hes facing the basket more. Theres also Toby Baxter and Timmy Hamilton (6-3), who is a brute on the football field, rebounds well and will set a perfect screen.
At guard, senior Braden Hullings, the leading returning scorer with 7.4 points, has had some back issues, but Cherne has high hopes for him in the second half of the season.
When he goes, I think people will be surprised by him, Cherne said. Hes very explosive toward the basket.
Another surprise could be senior Damien Akao.
Hes got great jumping ability, hes quick, hes a great defender. Hell do the dirty things; hell dive on the floor and hes at the right place at the right time.
Cherne does have concerns, though. The point guard position needs to be filled. The Crusaders must play the transition game well, a staple of the City League.
Ive got some question marks, he said. But if we can not turn the ball over, that would be key . I think I can play eight, nine kids and be comfortable with it.
Marvin Estes laughed when asked what the Kapaun girls do for an encore after winning the 2011-12 Class 5A title in his first season.
Well, you go for your second state title, I guess, he said. We lost a bunch from last year. We lost some awfully good leadership and awfully good talent from last year, but Id be less than genuine if I said that we didnt have some good players coming back.
Kapauns definitely loaded.
Theres sophomore Sam Bachrodt, whose versatility can be exploited defensively and offensively. She can play from the forward to point guard positions and is an outstanding shooter.
Grace Hagan and Lindsey Medina will likely run the point. Estes said Hagan is called the rubber lady because she can steal the ball right out of the air.
Inside, Kapaun can go to Blake Bullock, a 6-foot-1 senior, who has the ability to handle the ball on the perimeter and is a strong rebounder.
Kapaun also has 6-2 junior Sydney Kuhn, who has made an oral commitment to play volleyball at Notre Dame, and is so athletic and quick.
Molly McAuliffe has always had a pretty jump shot, but shes also improved her inside moves. Hannah Lienhard (6-0) is thee strongest of the Crusaders inside players and she can get those easy baskets off offensive rebounds.
Our challenge this year is can we have a good enough three-point threat like we did last year, Estes said. If we can, it helps us open up the inside game, and if we can have a balanced attack, well be a much better team.
November 30 East.
December 4 at South; 7 Southeast; 11 at North; 14 Carroll.
January 5 Andover Central (Koch Arena); 8 West; 11 at Northwest; 15 Heights (girls); 17-19 at El Dorado tournament (boys); 22 Heights (boys); 24-26 Newton tournament (girls); 29 at East.
February 1 South; 5 at Southeast; 8 North; 9 at Carroll; 15 at West; 19 Northwest; 21 at Heights.