WICHITA, Kan.—The gym is filled with the sound of basketballs bouncing up and down, players are running back and forth across the court, and the coach is shouting out new drills and correcting players’ mistakes.
”If a layman walks in, it looks like controlled chaos,” head coach John Cherne III said. “But it’s not madness. It’s at fevered pitch.”
“We’ve had some of the best practices since I’ve been at Kapaun,” Cherne III said. “The intensity has been really high, players are challenging each other every day. They’re being competitive.”
The Crusaders are coming into the season as defending state 5A champions. Junior David Ewers said this is a challenge that will force them to work hard throughout the season.
“We’re going to have to come out every game prepared,” Ewers said. “Everyone’s going to want us and we’re going to get everyone’s best game. We’re defending state champs so we’ve got a big target on our backs.”
Although it will put a target on their backs, senior Alec Santiago believes they can’t dwell on what happened last year, and must put it behind them.
“Sometimes it’s easy to look back on the past, and you get complacent when you do that,” Santiago said. “If we set a new goal this year it will make us work harder so that we can win another one.”
Senior Karston Gross welcomes the challenge and is most looking forward to playing basketball again and being competitive.
“[I’m looking forward to] just seeing how it turns out,” Gross said. “Seeing how we’ll be different from last season and seeing how we’ll compete with the rest of the city league because there is a lot of talent in it.”
The biggest strength the team will have to offer this year is the experience they have not only playing basketball, but playing together and bonding as a team.
“We have a lot of kids that have played varsity before,” senior Jeremy Lickteig said. “We have a lot of kids coming back that have experience, and a lot of our seniors have been playing together for many years now. We’re used to the style of play and we know what each person brings to the table.”
This year, Gross is looking forward to the team improving their game and proving themselves after their success last year.
“This year is a totally new year,” Gross said. “We’re just looking forward to the first game, preparing mentally, staying healthy and being smart.”
In order to be successful this season, there are still some things the team needs to work on before their first game. Ultimately, they want to be as successful as last year, win a city league title, and return to state competition.
“We need to establish roles for everybody, there’s a few spots we need to fill, and figure the little things out, but after that I think we’re going to be a strong team,” Lickteig said. “I’m looking forward to having a lot of fun this year and we’re going to try to bring a lot of success to Kapaun Mt. Carmel just like last year.”