By Michael Hicks
Coming off a 1-22 season a year ago, it’s easy to see that confidence wasn’t a strong suit for the Berthoud boys’ basketball team. But 2008-09 brings a new season and a brighter outlook for the Spartans. Besides, they can only go up from here, right.
“We have a better attitude this year. We’re all coming up with our heads high. We’re taking last year and brushing that off and coming out this season fresh,” said senior point guard Ryan Barron. “We’re looking to get after teams and make the game miserable for other people. We’re not looking at it as we’re underdogs this year. We’re coming out strong and competing this year for sure.”
The Spartans lost 18 straight games to open last season before scoring their only victory — a 50-49 nail biter at Frederick in February. In those 22 losses, only seven were by less than 10 points and three by five points or less.
Not a single player averaged double figures a year ago. Four of the team’s top five scorers are gone with only Shane Hart, a 6-foot-2 guard, returning. Hart scored a team-high 138 points in 2007-08, averaging 8.6 points per outing.
All that said, it’s Pete Scheck’s intention to change the mentality of the Spartans from the inside out. That starts with getting his players more court time, especially during the offseason.
“We had a really good offseason with guys playing all offseason,” the second-year head coach said. “We had a good summer program going. We had some guys play club basketball. We’ve had them going pretty much all year long consistently. Hopefully, all that hard work pays off early on with victories and gets their confidence level up.”
With Barron leading the point and Hart and Jeff Shields manning the perimeter, Berthoud hopes to take advantage of its outside shooting to open up the lanes for post players Joel Maly and Graham Shaw.
“We’ve got a lot of guys who can shoot 3s now — Ryan, Shane and myself,” Shields said. “Then we got Joel and Graham inside who can do a really good job, even though they might not be as tall as some of the other guys in the league.”
Guard Danny McGinn and swingman Marcus Mathiesen round out the varsity roster with guards Greg Hutchins and Zac Rubesam, who is recovering from a dislocated elbow suffered at the end of football season, as possible call-ups from the junior varsity squad.
Ability and depth could be an issue for Scheck, but it’s not nearly as important as getting the players into a groove with his system.
“The guys that are on the varsity team, most were in the program last year. The ones that were have picked up the system pretty well,” said Scheck, who plans to run a transition offense to go with a trapping man-to-man defense with some zone. “They’ve gotten more used to the system. They run it better now than last year. And some of them are buying into it pretty well. From that standpoint, I feel pretty comfortable about them being able to execute what we want them to execute.”
And who knows, if the confidence level continues to grow, the execution is flawless and Berthoud High puts last year’s disappointing season in the past, a .500 season and top-half finish in the 17-team Northern Conference could be on the horizon. But it all starts with getting that first win. Playing experience and a growing confidence will help the Spartans go a long way towards where they want to go.