Second-year coach looks to continue progressing
After winning only two games in the 2010-11 season, Eagle River’s boys basketball team finished 6-8 in Cook Inlet Conference play and was just two points shy of reaching the semifinals of the CIC tourney.
This season, the Wolves may be even better, said second-year head coach Fred Young.
“We’ve got a stronger bench,” he said.
Five of the 12 varsity players — Shaquan Rhoades, Thomas Jones, Michael Mothersell, Hunter Hill, and Nick Montgomery — are returners.
The Wolves lost four seniors, including top scorer Chris Parker.
But, Young said, Rhoades is more than ready to fill that void.
“He wants it,” Young said. “He’s 100 percent better than he was last year.”
Young attributed Rhoades’ improvement to offseason work.
To complement Rhoades’ scoring ability, Young said, Eagle River gained a tough, versatile player in Eric Roberts — a transfer student from Wasilla.
“He’s gonna help us a lot on both sides of the ball,” Young said.
One of Eagle River’s strengths is its speed, Young said.
“We have a lot of team speed and quickness,” he said.
While no specific goals have been discussed, Young said the Wolves are all on the same page.
“They know what they want,” he said. “They want to go to state.”
But, Rhoades said, Eagle River has to focus on the present.
“We’ve got to stay humble,” he said.
At times last year the Wolves overlooked teams, Rhoades said, which proved costly. This season, Eagle River has a one-game-at-a-time mentality, he said.
Playing as one unit will be key for success, Rhoades said.
“Everybody has to take their role,” he said. “Know what they have to do to win games.”
Carefully avoiding the word “state” so as not to break his own rule, Rhoades said Eagle River has a great opportunity to achieve its unspoken goal.
“We’ve got a chance to get that jewel,” he said.
Eagle River opened its season with a 75-63 home win over Colony on Tuesday, Dec. 11. Rhoades led the way with 25 points, Roberts added 22 and Montgomery had 13.
The Wolves begin the 33rd Annual Cougar Tip-Off Tourney today (Dec. 13) against Ketchikan at 4:30 p.m. at Service.