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Hinkle hopes to see steady improvement

Jordan Hinkle wants to see steady improvement from his Verndale boys' basketball team this season as they work on bettering a deceptive 7-18 cage mark.

The Pirates lost nine of those 18 games by an average of six points.

"We were competitive last year, but we just didn't get the wins. We have to turn the corner," Hinkle said.

Hinkle has 15 candidates for varsity duty in the top three grades.

"We have the most experience coming back in the guard positions. We lost a few key players from last year in the post and we will have to fill those positions with underclassmen who will have to learn the roles."

Leading the way for the Pirates will be three-time letterman Dallas Ehrmantraut. The 5-foot-11-inch guard gives the Pirates an excellent shooter and ball-handler.

"He's a solid player and he's a good leader," Hinkle said in praising Ehrmantraut.

Ehrmantraut will line up in the backcourt with 5-foot-11-inch senior Josh Gilb, a two-time letterman. Hinkle has 6-foot-4-inch senior letterman Ben Horstmann ready to provide help in the post.

Junior lettermen on the team include 6-foot forwards Daniel Fisher and Eric Blaha and 6-foot-2-inch guard Marcos Gomez. Other juniors on the team will be 6-foot forward Austin Chock and 6-foot-3-inch forward Will Kramer.

Leading the sophomore corps will be lettermen Colter Ehrmantraut and James Kveton. Ehrmantraut is a 5-foot-8-inch guard prospect while Kveton is a 6-foot forward.

The burgeoning sophomore group will also feature 5-foot-11-inch guard Bradyn Sickels, 5-foot-10-inch forward Dalton Emerson, 6-foot-2-inch center Seth Zins, 5-foot-10-inch forward Daniel Hinz and 5-foot-11-inch guard Michael Kramer.

Hinkle and his staff will also be working with six freshmen and four eighth-graders.

"We want to be aggressive in nature on the offensive end and the defensive end."

Hinkle sees Henning and Pillager as being pretty solid contenders in the Park Region Conference. The two clubs tied for top honors last year.

"It'll be another battle between those two for the top spot," Hinkle said.