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Paynesville Press - November 24, 2004

Young buckets team to tip off season next week

By Michael Jacobson

A young boys' basketball team will hit the court next week for the Bulldogs, playing against Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa at BBE High School in Belgrade on Monday, Nov. 29.

The Dogs lost four senior starters from last year's 6-16 team, including leading scorers Adam Kampsen and Doug Mages. Senior posts Jordan Haag and Adam Hemmesch graduated, as did top sub Adam Ingalsbe.

Sophomore Cory Nietfeld, who earned honorable mention honors in the West Central Conference North last year, is the lone returning starter for the Bulldogs. Nietfeld averaged 10.2 points per game last year (third on the team) and led the team with 25 blocked shots. He was second on the team in rebounds (8.7 per game), assists (3.0 per game), and steals (2.3 per game).

Other players vying for varsity time this year are seniors A.J. Benson, Jon Mohr, and Atanas Pastarmadzhiev; juniors Mark Andrie, Aaron Braun, Trent Hansen, and Derek Stanger; and sophomores Ben Moser and Michael Houske. These four juniors - Andrie, Braun, Hansen, and Stanger - all saw limited varsity action last year.

The team began practicing on Monday, Nov. 15, and will play their first game two weeks later.

"We have to do many things well and build on the strengths of last season as well as improve on some key weaknesses," said coach Phil Carlson. "Our players know about the mental toughness of the game and how we need to execute on a consistent basis (early in the game, in the middle of the game, and at the end)."

"We are looking to put together a strong defensive effort in each game," added Carlson, starting his third season as varsity coach for the Dogs. "This takes a lot of self sacrifice and desire. From what we have seen in practice so far, I think we are on the right track."

The Bulldogs attended a scrimmage on Saturday at Sauk Centre, playing against five other teams. The Dogs learned, according to Carlson, where they need to improve, what players are ready for varsity competition, and who plays the best together.

Melrose and Sauk Centre figure to be the favorites in the West Central Conference North, said Carlson, while New London-Spicer and Rockford figure to be strong contenders for the subsection title.

The Dogs will play a few new teams in 2004-05. New to the schedule are games against Howard Lake-Waverly (on Monday, Feb. 7), against Holdingford (on Tuesday, March 1), and a holiday tournament at Benson (on Friday, Dec. 17, and Saturday, Dec. 18) against Benson, MACCRAY, and Hancock.

The Bulldogs will play their first home game on Thursday, Dec. 2, against Kimball. "We have had a tremendous turnout from our local fans every year, and this is a driving force for our young team," Carlson said. "We need those fans to come out and get fired up in our gym just as our team does."

Carlson will be assisted again this year by Ross Engelstad (junior varsity coach) and by Rick Houske (ninth grade coach).

Carlson does need some volunteer coaches for the youth basketball program. Anyone interested in volunteering for grades 1-4 should call Carlson at 320-243-1717.

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