By PATRICK SLACK
Last year, the Little Falls boys basketball team went 19-7 in the regular season to earn the top seed in Section 8AAA, but suffered a narrow upset in the opening round of the playoffs.
This year, the Flyers will set out to make a deeper run in the postseason, but will have to do so without three of its top playmakers from a year ago, Matt Valentine, Grant Bell and Thomas Smith, with senior Josh Wenzel out for the start of the season.
“We lost three quality players to graduation and will begin the year without Wenzel due to injury,” Little Falls head coach Kevin Jordan said. “So there are some holes to fill to say the least.”
Filling one of them will be senior guard Collin Eckman. He and Wenzel return as starters in the back court.
Also logging considerable minutes in the Little Falls rotation last year and eyeing more playing time are seniors Jake Scott, Spencer Lubbers and Travis Spillum and junior Troy Scott, with newcomers in senior Collin Gradin, juniors Sebastian Sowada, Cam Smith and Mark Hanowski and sophomore Bryce Zawatzke also expected to contribute.
“We have some experience yet with our senior and junior class, and our sophomore class is athletic, talented and deep,” Jordan said. “This will give us good competition in practice and if we are able to focus on getting better as the year goes on, we should be ready come section playoff time.”
“Our section is ‘big,’ so it will be a challenge for this year’s team to find their way through the playoffs,” he said. “We were disappointed the way last year ended and that should provide us with some motivation to get it done.”
Little Falls opens the season at home against Fergus Falls, Dec. 4.