The Notre Dame Cougars senior boys basketball team may be young this season but they’re hoping to claw their way to the zone championship.
Just last season the Cougars lost to the Lindsay Thurber Raiders in the 4A central zone championship semi-finals but with just four returning players the team will look different.
Head coach Dale Henderson said they’re a bit inexperienced but are looking forward to coaching a great group of young men.
“They are all working really hard to get better so hopefully by the end of the year we’re a pretty solid team,” he said.
Made up of three Grade 10s, three Grade 11s, and seven Grade 12s, Henderson wants his team to strive to improve every week and at the end of the season, they hope to play their best basketball in the central zone championships.
“That’s our goal every year is to win zone whether it’s realistic or not I guess we’ll find out,” Henderson added.
The carryover from the COVID-19 pandemic, like many basketball programs, has hurt the Cougars.
Even the Grade 11 players would normally have a few years of experience under their belts but are now a bit inexperienced. The crop of Grade 10 athletes he said within the school is quite large and hopes they will build the program to a higher level in the future.
“I think between our experience in the playoffs and some of the tournament experience we get it makes us a better team all the time,” he explained.
”We’re going down to Cardston this weekend and we’re going to see some of the best basketball in the province. So the boys can watch and understand how much they have to play to be able to play at that level.”
Their strength this season is in their guard play which will lead the way to make up for their lack of size. A couple of their Grade 12 guards, Nolan Taylor and Everett Julien, he said will be good this year and will have a future at the college level if they work at it.
“They’re our main returning players who played a lot last year. The other two players we have were in Grade 10 last year and they didn’t play as much obviously and we have high expectations for them,” he said.
“They’re all guard-to-wing type players so Carson Mazurkewich and Matthew Hansen are also returning players that we have high expectations from.”
Henderson said Mazurkewich is defensively sound and is a smart player who knows where he needs to be on the floor. Hansen has been a great shooter and will rely on him to hit his shots throughout the season. Julien is the Cougars’ main ball handler and has shown to be an offensive threat. Henderson added Taylor can score the ball effectively from the wing and will more than likely be one of their leading scorers.
Other than the four returnees the Cougars’ roster contains Isiah Capicio, Coen Pizzey, Ryan Njuguna, Shea Bouchard, Gage Weinrauch, Cody Kerfoot, Trey Major, Owen Dixon, and Kie Peterson.