Four of five starters return from last years Dolores Bears basketball team.
The core group of underclassmen return.
Coach Larry Schwartz returns as well.
Dolores has the makings of what can be a good season. Expectations are high, as of course expected.
Im really excited for this season. Ive been playing with these guys since I was a sophomore. These guys are my best friends, said senior captain starting point guard Cody Carroll. I cannot wait to go play some games, win some games.
The Bears are fast, physical, athletic and smart. All of which are needed to play in Schwartzs up-tempo offense and pressing defensive system.
We have eight returning players back, Schwartz said. Were going to try and go nine, 10 players deep and keep everybody fresh.
The season starts tonight at Sangre de Cristo in Mosca. It is the Bears first game of the three-game Thunderbird Tournament. Sangre de Cristo is coached by Schwartzs mentor, Wade Mortensen. Schwartz was one of Mortensens assistants at Montezuma-Cortez in the 1990s.
It will be kind of weird seeing Wade on the other side of the sidelines, Schwartz said. Were looking forward to it. Theyre going to play great defense, obviously. Well see if we can match that intensity and give Wade a good game.
Dolores hasnt had a winning season in nearly a decade. The time for change is now, and it starts in Mosca.
Were going to put a stop to that. Thats our No. 1 goal, Schwartz said. The boys are excited to meet that goal. A winning season means a lot.
Carroll is a four-year starter. The Bears leading scorer the past two seasons has experienced a coaching transition and lost teammates to graduation. Carroll firmly believes this is Dolores year to not only have a winning season, but a championship banner season
This year, Im excited to use our offensive skills, our speed, Carroll said. This is my last year. I got to go out as hard as I can. Were all excited.
Junior center Tyler Weir is back to clean the glass. Hell have some help off the bench from Ryan Johnston, who switched sports from wrestling.
The chemistry is there, Weir said. With Moki (Youngquist) having a second year under his belt and Ryan coming up, theyre making me a lot better in practice and visa versa. Im making them a lot better in practice.
Senior guard/forward Austin Blackmer looks to shoot the lights out from the perimeter. Jackson Vermule and Moki Youngquist return starting minutes, too.
We have great young guys. We have freshmen and sophomores that are stepping up and playing like juniors and seniors, Blackmer said. My role is to try to help run the offense. If I have a chance to try to make it, (Ill) take it.
Heavy contributors Hayden Plewe, Ben Lykens, Jakob Rudosky, Mikeal Ford and Chaz Thompson provide excellent depth for coach Schwartz.
We got playmakers at every position. We got backups at every position. Were deep this year, Schwartz said. Every team in the league is going to be pretty well balanced. But were hoping to come out on top.
A home Dec. 4, contest against Utahs Monticello High School and a home game with the Montezuma-Cortez junior varsity Dec. 18, conclude the nonconference schedule.
The road to the San Juan Basin League title goes through Ignacio.
This could be the Bears year to dethrone the mighty Ignacio Bobcats.
Ive been waiting to beat those guys ever since I was 15, Carroll said. That team has always been great. Ignacio is really good.
Tip off at Sangre de Cristo High School is a 7:45 p.m.