WINTER SPORTS PREVIEW: Experience to guide Vikings
Early last season, Northeast High School’s boys got off to a rough start. But during that time, head coach Russ Cramer didn’t have the team he knew he’d finish the season with.
“We started 0-4,” Cramer said. “But some kids who transferred became eligible second semester and we finished the season on a 13-3 run. When we played well together, we were tough to beat.”
The Vikings, 13-8 last season, struggled to score early. Their high point total in their first four games was 40 points.
But once the transfers became eligible, scoring increased dramatically. They started a four-game winning streak with a 67-25 rout of Bronaugh, Mo., and scored fewer than 40 points just once more the rest of the season.
“We return most of our team and experience will be a strength,” Cramer says. “We also have some kids who can score.”
Seven letterwinners return for the Vikings. There are 22 players out, six of whom are seniors. Seven more are juniors.
Four starters return led by All-TRL First-Team honoree Matt Cashero (6’ 2”, Jr.), who averaged 14 points per game last season, and Trey McLaughlin (5’ 11”, Sr.), a All-TRL Second Team player who averaged 12.5 points. Also back are Tejay Cleland (6’ 2”, Sr.), who averaged 7.3 points, and Isaac Jurkovic (5’ 10”, Jr.), who averaged 6 1/2 points.
The other letterwinners were Kadin Dugan (6’ 3”, Sr.), Karter Dugan (6’ 0”, Soph.), and Brady Pryor (6’ 2”, Jr.).
Cramer also expects several other players to contribute including seniors Corbin Moore (5’ 10”), Dalton Reeves (5’ 10”), and Lane Howard (6’ 0”), junior Jazper Vandenberg (5’ 10”), and sophomore Braiden Broyles (6’ 0”.)
While the Vikings should be strong on offense, Cramer wants to work on one other key area of the game.
“Defense,” Cramer said. “We have to keep getting better.”
After winning their first six league games, the Vikings finished 9-2 in the Three Rivers League, just a game behind champion Yates Center (which won a tie-breaker for the title over Jayhawk-Linn after both finished 10-1).
“Yates Center will be the team to beat,” Cramer says. “I think if we play well together, we will have a chance to finish in the top half. Jayhawk-Linn is always solid. Pleasanton returns a lot of guys and could be solid as well.”
Northeast’s season begins Friday night with a non-league home game against Liberal, Mo.