With many untested hungry young players working their butts off for a new coach, competition has been intense at many recent practices. New Head Boys Basketball Coach Eddie Fullmer inherits a team that went 9-14 last season and missed state for the third year in a row. Returning for her third year at NCHS, Andie Hubbard’s JV went 11-8 last season.
The two are likeminded basketball coaches and the transition has been easier than expected. “Coach Hubbard and I have talked a lot about this, we share so many similar philosophies, and want the kids have a positive experience,” said Fullmer. “It’s hard to play well when everyone’s not together,” said Hubbard. “With the new offense they seem excited and have been working hard.” Fullmer has been a head coach at LFL and Morrill, (Neb) and assisted Rich Murray for two years upon arriving in Lusk nine years ago. He has been the LMS boy’s coach the past three years and is familiar with most of the roster.
While there are seven letter winners returning-not many have logged a lot of minutes at the varsity level. Seniors Teagan Tschacher, Alec Penfield and Declan Jensen, along with junior James Stone and sophomore Ryan Bruegger have the most experience and will be expected to be leaders on and off the court. “We’ve got to play as a team, because we don’t have that one dominant player,” said Penfield. Jayden Matthews added, “We need to pump each other up and be positive and play hard together from beginning to end.” With no varsity experience, seniors Matthews and Jacob Miller will have to learn how they fit into their roles on the team.
Juniors Wyatt Stauffer and Tanner Carpenter have improved and will probably surprise some with their long athleticism. “What’s great about those two is they listen, and then they figure out how to make it happen,” added Hubbard. Stone has played point guard the past two seasons and will be expected to shoulder a bigger load this year. Damien Molzahn has returned to the hardwood and brings a hard-nosed edge to the team. Ben Eiden rounds out a solid junior class that Fullmer is expecting big things of.
Sophomores Aric Eaton, and late addition Drake Lamp bring even more speed and athleticism to the Tigers, in addition to four freshmen and senior manager Kylie Strauch.
There will be plenty of teams for the Tigers to get through if they want to get to Casper. Pine Bluffs still has loads of talent, Glenrock returns a lot of experience, as well as Big Horn and Wright expecting tough squads with experience.
NCHS opens the season at the Herder Classic this weekend with varsity games against Big Horn (2:30) and Thermopolis (7 p.m.) Friday before facing Kaycee at 10 a.m. Saturday. The JV plays Thermopolis Friday at 4 p.m. before a Saturday game against Big Horn at 11:30 a.m.