|Written by Brian Bergner Jr.|
|Thursday, 24 November 2011 00:00|
The Cowboys’ 68-41 loss to No. 3 Thatcher High School in the second round of the 2A conference state tournament in February wasn’t how Head Coach Darren Gagnon wanted things to end last season.
The good news is, basketball season has begun once again at Camp Verde High School.
“We will have a well-rounded team this season. We will not be great at any one position, but we’ll be stronger together. What’s nice is our kids pull for each other, and they share the ball well. They just play together well,” Gagnon said.
Camp Verde finished the 2010-2011 campaign with an even 14-14 overall record. Having played one of its toughest regular season schedules in the program’s history, Gagnon was more than pleased with a 17-14 mark last year.
The Cowboys lost four seniors to graduation in May, two of whom were more than likely the best players in the Verde Valley, Trey Cooper and Shaq Watahomigie. Daniel Brunner and Kyle Niederer were the other two.
“I think my biggest expectation this season is we will see a different take on Camp Verde basketball. We had a couple of really talented kids [Watahomigie and Cooper] play for us for a long time and now our team will just look a little different,” Gagnon said.
Replacing Watahomigie and Cooper will not be easy for Gagnon but the Cowboys still have plenty of talent left over from last winter.
Top returners this season for Camp Verde include senior center Jake Spleiss and senior guards Brian Hudson and Johnny Hudson.
At 6-foot, 4-inches, Spleiss is a force in the middle while the Hudson boys provide an outside presence at the guard position.
“I think we’ll have a ton of success as soon as we begin to gel like we did in the summer. We’ve only been together a short time and we are looking promising,” Spleiss said.
Senior Deshon Tripp returns this winter as well, but injuries suffered during football season may slow his progress in the early part of this season. Tripp fractured his shoulder in the last football game of the season for Camp Verde on Nov. 11. Gagnon reported there is no timetable for Tripp’s return this season. Other top returners include seniors Marco Lozanilla and Josh Benson.
Top newcomers this season for the Cowboys include seniors Joe Wilson and Chris Zellner along with juniors Jacob Lewis, Cezar Quevas, Justin Reay and Ryan Dufresne. Sophomores Kenu Garcia and Mitchel Lapham also made the team.
The regular season schedule will be just as tough as it was last season for the Cowboys this winter with games against Coconino, Prescott and Bradshaw Mountain high schools.
Generally, Camp Verde does not play Coconino, Prescott and Bradshaw Mountain during regular season power point games, but with the Arizona Interscholastic Association’s changes to alignments, it does now.
“With the new alignment, we don’t know what to expect. I’ll be happy if we just compete with some of those teams,” Gagnon said.
Other top games for Cowboys fans to consider attending include the two home games against Mingus Union and Sedona Red Rock high schools.
Mingus is scheduled to visit Camp Verde on Tuesday, Jan. 24, while Sedona comes to town Friday, Feb. 3, which happens to be the regular season finale.
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