Tiger hoops look to run and gun

LUSK – Ed Fullmer begins his fourth season as head coach and Andie Hubbard returns for her seventh as assistant for the Niobrara County High School boys basketball team. The pair have fourteen players and senior Bryce Goodwin is the team manager.

“I suspected that with our lack of size, we would have to get up and down the court a bit faster,” Fullmer said. “We’ve got to rely on our defense to create turnovers into layups, and we’d like to get to a point where the other teams are struggling, grabbing their shorts and we’re not.”

Seniors Jayce Cummins, Walker Kupke (All-Conference in 2021) and Mason Wells were all starters last season, and are hungry to qualify   for state.

“It’s our last go together, we’ve got to take every chance and use everything we’ve learned,” said Kupke.

The trio provides Fullmer with experience and diversity as they are very different players. Wells is the Tigers inside presence and expected to improve his scoring and rebounding from last season. Cummins’ speed will help make the Tigers go, and Fullmer praised his improvement since joining the program as a sophomore.

“I think it will be fun to play fast,” said Cummins. “When the other team is tired, we’ll be ready for it.”

Kupke has a firm grasp of what Fullmer wants to do and has grown a few inches. In addition to the six assists he dished out a year ago, Kupke’s scoring increase will be important for the Tigers.

“Those three, it’s been fun to watch their growth as players and young men,” Fullmer said. “And I’m excited to see their unique personalities mesh.”

Cory Bruegger has also gained a few inches since March, and a summer of travel ball means the sophomore is ready for a breakout season. Comparing him with 6’5” older brother Ryan is not fair, since the two are completely different players according to Fullmer.

“I’m looking forward to his growth as a player. His intangibles and court vision are very good already, I hope they guys are ready to finish when he fires a pass to them“.

Classmates Caleb Miller, Camden Rose and Tatum Stallman are returning letter winners, and a handful of newcomers will also challenge for varsity time.

“We are very inexperienced after those first four, but I think the early schedule could help with getting the kids up to speed,” added Fullmer.

“I tell the younger guys, don’t freak out if you make a mistake, just learn from it and move on,” said Wells.

The Tigers open the season at the Coal Miner’s Classic in Wright this weekend with games against Wright (9 a.m. Friday), St Stephens (3 p.m. Friday) and Greybull (11 a.m. Saturday). The JV will face Wright at 10:30 Friday morning before playing Greybull at 2 p.m. on Saturday.


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