St. Stephen's opens season with optimismDec 1, 2016 By Randy Tucker, Staff Writer
The Eagles boys basketball squad lost three all-state performers, but return a strong core to build on.
St. Stephen's graduated three all-state players a season ago in Miklo Oldman, Derrick Williams and Jaron Arthur, but head coach Ricky Blackburn has a bevy of young talent to choose from this season with 26 boys out for basketball.
Three Stars Fridayis the only senior on the team, but his quickness and 6-foot-3 frame should be a force for the Eagles in the low post.
Xavier Hubbard and Nathaniel Spoonhunter will run the floor well and can score and Vincent Brown, Kale Ferris and Antonio Divers should all contribute.
"We gave up too many points last year. We led the state in scoring but we gave up a lot of points," said Blackburn. "Our emphasis is on half court defense. The hardest thing for us to instill is defense and rebounding."
The Eagles are tall and quick this year, the key is going to be finding the right combination of players for Blackburn and assistant coach Mike Jenkins.
"We have a solid eight coming back from last year," said Blackburn. "We'll be young, mostly sophomores and juniors but we build for the end of the year."
Across the Class 1-A Northwest, Burlington stands out as the favorite, but Meeteetse could be a contender, as well.
"Burlington's going to be wicked," said Blackburn. "Meeteetse should be right in there with three kids coming back."
Statewide, Little Snake River should be a talented team this season.
St. Stephen's opens play against the St. Labre, Montana junior varsity on Dec. 8 and also plays Northern Cheyenne in a opening-season tournament at Billings.
The Eagles travel to Goshen County in the second week to play in the Lingle-Fort Laramie tournament.