Coach Kevin Tumberg looks at the start of the 2021 boys basketball season as an unusual one to say the least.

While he typically works with the team throughout the summer months, making sure everyone stays in shape, this year, those gatherings just couldn't happen.

"It's very exciting to be back, all the kids and coaches are excited to be back," Tumberg said. "We're hoping that passion and that drive just keeps showing."

As the group puts together about eight practices before game day, Thursday, Jan. 14, they wasted no time running and gunning at full speed.

Having to keep the mask on is difficult. Tumberg has heard from the outside that people can't believe the kids could keep it on.

Newsletter signup for email alerts

"I don't think they enjoy it, but they haven't complained at all," Tumberg said of the players. They'd do just about anything it takes to play their sport. As for the coaches, they noticed that as they try to speak louder through the mask, they lost their voices a little faster than usual.

"We definitely notice it, but it's just another obstacle to get over," senior Tony Kreklau said of the requirement to keep a mask on during the games and practice. He's looking forward to what's left of the season. "Just anything to keep us in the gym playing."

"We're just real excited and it's good to be in the gym again after all this time off, especially having something to do," senior Payton Rondestvedt said.

It's been a couple months since the team was able to have some serious games together. Even so, he feels the team has speed on their side.

"Hopefully we can all just stay healthy," he said.

The team brings out about 24 players, about usual, Tumberg said. They have seven seniors this year, and seven freshmen on their way up. Twenty four is a good number to be at as there are player pod limits of 25 in a group. Anymore and they would have to separate the group during practices.

With a strong returning group, Tumberg feels they will be very competitive every night.

"Hopefully we'll be finishing towards the top of the conference," Tumberg said.

A big schedule difference means the team only has four non-conference games, losing out about eight non-conference games. They are down to 18 games instead of the usual 26 overall.

"Losing out on eight of those games is going to make a big difference I think," Tumberg said. "That will be one big adjustment."