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Defense key for Verndale boys this cage season

Jordan Hinkle's Verndale Pirates will be trying to parlay good defense into victories as they tackle their 2011-2012 cage schedule.

The Pirates will be without the services of scoring ace Zach Meidinger and eight other members of their 2010-2011 team, but the cupboard is far from bare.

"I think we have a little experience combined with some youth," Hinkle said. "We've been working very hard in the off-season. We have to replace a lot of scoring but I think defensively we'll be a little better."

Seniors on this year's Verndale team will be 6-2 forward Travis Lollar, 6-3 center Aaron Denny and 6-0 guard Chris Siedschlaw. Lollar is being counted on to fill a big role both offensively and defensively.

"He'll be one of our scoring options on ounce as well as one of our main rebounders," Hinkle said.

Denny will also be counted on for his scoring and rebounding skills.

Hinkle sees Siedschlaw playing a defensive role for the Pirates.

Dallas Ehrmantraut is one of Verndale's five juniors. The 5-10 guard was an all-conference selection as a sophomore. Ehrmantraut is being tabbed as the club's No. 1 point guard and Hinkle feels he is a natural floor leader.

Josh Gilb will give the Pirates a 5-10 shooting guard with good basketball sense.

Ben Horstmann and E.J. Blocker are being counted on to provide depth. Horstmann is a 6-2 center and Blocker is a 5-10 yard.

Foreign exchange student Carlos Hernandez, a 5-7 guard, is being counted on for the junior varsity.

Three sophomores on the team include Daniel Fisher, Marcos Gomez and Eric Blaha. Fisher is a 6-0 forward who will add good depth to the varsity team. Gomez is "lightning quick" and Hinkle feels he has the kind of raw talent that could help the varsity. Blaha is a 5-10 forward who will also give the Pirates depth.

Six freshmen out this season include James Kveton, Seth Zins, Colter Ehrmantraut, Bradyn Sickels, Dalton Emerson and Daniel Hinz. The 5-11 Kveton has a lot of natural ability, according to Hinkle, and will man a forward spot and rotate in on varsity. Zins is 6-2 and will center the JV team. Hinkle rates him a superior rebounder. Ehrmantraut will be the JV team's 5-7 point guard. Emerson and Hinz are 5-10 forwards while Sickels is a 5-10 guard.

Hinkle rates Bertha and Sebeka as two of the Park Region Conference's top teams. He considers Upsala as the team to beat once again in Section 4 but also expects trouble come tournament-time from Browerville, Eagle Valley and Bertha-Hewitt.