Posted 12/04/13 (Wed)
By Neal A. Shipman
With just two starters back from last year’s Watford City boys varsity basketball team, Randy Cranston, Wolves’ head coach, knows that this is going to be a rebuilding year. But even with the challenge of forming a new nucleus of players, Cranston is predicting that this year’s team will be competitive by the time that tournament season rolls around.
“We can be as good as any of the other teams in our district and region by tournament time,” states Cranston. “This will be a very competitive region with New Town and Parshall being tough in our district, while Tioga will be the strongest team in District 16.”
Cranston, who has a 185-82 win-loss record as he enters his 12th season as Wolves’ head coach, is looking for leadership from his two returning starters - Mitchell Liebel, a 6’2” senior forward-center, and Dustin Kleppen, a 5’11” senior guard.
Rounding out his other starting players will be David Kline, a 6’0” junior guard, and Logan Fettig, a 6’3” junior center. The fifth starter will either be Andrew Sampsel, a 6’4” senior center, or Bo Cook, a 5’9” junior guard.
“If we decide to go big, Sampsel will be starting,” states Cranston. “And if we decide to go small, it will be Cook.”
Either way, Cranston feels confident that the Wolves will be able to put a team on the floor that will be competitive.
“We won’t be out-matched on the floor when we play man-to-man defense,” says Cranston.
As of the style of basketball that the Wolves will be playing, Cranston says that fans can expect a very up-tempo brand of basketball.
“It will be fun basketball to watch,” says Cranston. “We’re going to play with a lot less structure than we have in the past and we’re going back to a ‘run and gun’ style of basketball. We’re going to be getting the ball to the hoop with a lot of penetration moves instead of trying to pound the ball inside like we have in the past.”
While Cranston has a solid five to six players on this year’s varsity squad, he is hoping that other players on the team will step up and be able to provide quality minutes of play.
Rounding out Cranston’s varsity team are seniors Dillon Smith, a 5’11” forward; and Joseph Meuchel, a 6’1” center; juniors Charlie Villanueva, a 5’10” forward; and Brenden Leaming, a 5’10” guard; sophomores Korbin Knutson, a 5’10” guard; Jamari Pearson, a 5’8” guard; Andrew Reed, a 5’8” guard; Seth Indegard, a 5’11” guard-forward and freshman Cole McGorman, a 6’11” guard-forward.
Last season, the Wolves ended the season with a 15-8 record and finished as the District 15 Champions. They took third place at the Region 8 Tournament.
The Wolves opened their 2013-2014 season on Monday when they hosted Trinity Christian. This week, Watford City will take on Heart River on Thursday in home action and will then travel to Minot Ryan on Saturday, Dec. 7.