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2013-14 basketball preview: Northwest

Published Dec. 4 at 9 a.m. | Last updated Dec. 3 at 12:08 p.m.

SCHEDULE

December — 6, at North; 10, West; 17, South; 19, at East.

January — 2-4, TBA at Koch Arena; 7, at Heights; 10, Southeast; 14, at Kapaun; 17, Carroll; 21, North (G); 23-25, at Topeka tournament (B); 28, North (B); 30-Feb. 1, at McPherson tournament (G).

February — 4, at West; 11, at South; 14, East; 18, Heights; 21, at Southeast; 25, Kapaun; 27, at Carroll.

BOYS

Coach: Chris Collins, sixth season

Last season: 9-12

Top players

Cortez Carr, 6-9, sr., F

Brett Johnston, 6-6, sr., F

Kaleb Cobb, 6-0, sr., G

Aaron Nicholson, 5-7, jr., G

Nick Williams, 6-0, jr., G

Collins won’t have to worry a bit about his Grizzlies competing in every game.

“Last year we had a team full of great young men,” Collins said. “… As far as competitors, it took them a while to figure out how to compete. I think with this year’s team, I don’t think we’ll have an issue competing and really putting forth the maximum effort and understanding what it takes to get a stop when we need to get a stop.”

Northwest also has a core of talented athletes, with guards who can drive inside or shoot from the perimeter.

The Grizzlies struggled with rebounding last season — Collins said they were outrebounded in every game — but Northwest has two athletic, strong big men in Johnston and Carr.

Johnston has good footwork and is effective when facing the basket.

While Collins notes that Carr is still developing, there’s no doubt that Carr’s got a big upside.

“He could have some big nights,” Collins said. “One thing I can tell you, he can run like a gazelle. That’s one of his strengths. He’s extremely fast for his size. That’s something I believe can help us.”

GIRLS

Coach: Jim Mernagh, fifth season

Last season: 10-12

Top players

Calea Carr, 5-9, sr., G

Cassie Pauls, 5-8, jr., G

Katie Cramer, 5-6, so., G

Lyndi McIntyre, 5-8, sr., F

Jordan Hall, 5-8, jr., F

With Northwest again lacking in tall post players, Mernagh is going to have to figure out what to do with the Grizzlies’ inside game. Until that happens, he’ll be able to rely on guards Carr, Pauls and Cramer, who can control the game defensively and offensively.

Pauls can shoot from anywhere, but also can drive the lane.

“She’s got a nice touch, and she can fill it up from the outside,” Mernagh said. “Her biggest thing is realizing she’s a scorer and she can play.”

When preseason practice began, Cramer was able to start with the Grizzlies after suffering an anterior cruciate ligament injury during soccer season. At 100 percent, she’s quick off the dribble and can drive to the rim, and she creates problems for opponents with her intense defense.

Carr is a pure athlete.

“She’s so strong handling the basketball,” Mernagh said. “She’s really good about getting to the rim and finishing. If she gets bumped a bit, it doesn’t bother her. She’s done a nice job of playing hard, and her outside shot is not bad. She can do a lot of things for us.”