Summer was a little nerve-wreaking for Pawhuska boys basketball Jake Christenson. He wondered how he was going to replace the nine graduating seniors from last season’s 15-14 squad.
Christenson isn’t as worried as the Huskies approach their Nov. 28 season opener at home against Wesleyan Christian.
“Lately we’re playing really well,” said Christenson, who is entering his second year as the Huskies coach.
Last year, everything was new for Christenson, assistant coach Mark Frye and the players. This year, the coaches and players know the offense, defense and have set the goals and expectations for the season, Christenson said.
One of the advantages has been the off-season training program orchestrated by Frye.
“We’ve got a bunch of sophomores that look like juniors and seniors now,” Christenson said, noting they’ve added 11 to 12 pounds of muscle because of Frye’s conditioning program.
“It’s all him, and he did a great job,” Christenson said. “Our strength is, without a doubt, our attitude and dedication to becoming better athletes first.”
Although nine seniors graduated, the cupboard isn’t bare. Ten players, including seniors Brian Jeffers, Braydon Wilson and Devynn Mathis, are back.
Christenson said he had 14 players on the roster when school started, and added five more when football season ended.
Seniors Jeffers and Wilson, and sophomore Easton Kirk provide a solid nucleus to build around.
“Braydon Wilson and Brian Jeffers are both great workers and good people. Braydon is a great shooter and Brian is an incredible athlete,” Christenson said.
Kirk and Evan Frye, he said, will be the cornerstone of the Huskies basketball program for the next three years.
“They understand what it takes to be successful at a very young age,” he said.
Junior Sam West can score and hustles. JT Waddle is a tremendous defender. Matthew Miles, Tre Harper, Andrez Ramirez, Isaiah Walker and Hunter Hurd will vie for minutes, he said.
The Huskies football players are making the transition to basketball. Jeffers sustained a broken hand and a sprained ankle during the football season.
“Brian practiced and made sure he got his feet wet and remembered some of the offense we do. Here recently, we’ve let him take off a little bit, get his legs under him and feel more comfortable.” Christenson said.
“The football players are transitioning well. … They probably feel like they are a little bit behind because those other guys have been in there for three months. They are doing a good job,” he said.
The Huskies will do a little bit of everything on offense, and the transition game should be a strength for PHS. The Huskies want to play fast, keeping the pace high on offense and defense.
Last year’s record: 15-14
Coach: Jake Christenson
Assistant coaches: Mark Frye, Dale Christenson
Returning starters: 1
Returning players: 10
Seniors: Devynn Mathis, Brian Jeffers, Braydon Wilson
Juniors: Sam West, Nick Green
Sophomores: JT Waddle, Easton Kirk, Matthew Miles, Hunter Hurd, Malcom Goff, Tre Harper, Hunter Fanning, Evan Frye, Andrez Ramirez
Freshmen: Isaiah Walker, Jamar Goff, Roderick Tisdale, Odin McGuiree, Gov Camargo