Seven players with solid varsity experience are among nine lettermen returning to bolster the Cherokee Braves basketball team this season, again under the tutelage of coach Bob Lee and assistants Mike Nixon and Chad Osler.
Eight of the nine returning lettermen are seniors, so leadership, experience, and knowing what to expect night in and night out in the tough Lakes Conference are advantages the Cherokee squad can seize hold of.
Among those seniors with varsity experience are Eric Wilkie, Zac Smith, Stetson Dagel, Lane Peterson, Nathaniel Morgan, Marc Husman, Zac Taylor, and Andrew Zarr. Junior Brett Walker also has varsity experience as a starter. Wilkie returns as a second team All-Lakes Conference pick.
Among the promising newcomers, according to Lee, are juniors Jose Freed, Kevin Fajardo, and Grayson Roosa.
The Braves struggled last season and posted a 3-18 record, including 0-14 in the Lakes Conference.
"Our depth gives us many faces that will be competing for minutes," noted Lee. "We are hoping that this will produce competitive practices, which we as coaches love to see.
"We are especially deep down low with Husman, Dagel, Smith, Peterson, and Morgan all seeing a lot of minutes in the post for us last season. We also expect Zarr to battle for possible minutes inside. We don't have as much experience on the perimeter. We hope to see another perimeter player step up and compete with these guys."
Those two letter winners coach Heath Hagberg greeted are very good ones, though, in the persons of three-year senior starters Megan Hummel and Megan Carlson. Carlson is recovering from injury at this time and is a two time honorable mention Lakes Confeernce performer, while Hummel gleaned second team Lakes Conference honors last year.
A handful of underclassmen also will contend in impacting the varsity team, including sophomores Sara Ramirez, Josey Stowater, Emily Haselhoff; and promising freshmen Alexia Gerdes and Kaely Hummel.
Others who will be counted heavily on to contribte to the cause are Kaitlin Kennebeck, Ariana Smith, Sydney Hart, Brookelyn Hoeppner, and Yesenia Castro.
The Cherokee girls posted a 9-14 season record last year and finished 4-10 in the rugged Lakes Conference that sent two teams to last year's State Tournament. Hagberg is assisted by Jim Leonard.
Among those lettermen are State Qualifier Hunter Morrow, Andy Pitts, Nathan Laursen, Blake Booth, Luke Zeimen, and Derek Bechtel.
Among the promising newcomers coach Todd and his staff will work to help develop into strong varsity contenders include freshmen Drake Bechtel and Christian Lundy, and junior Micheal Rosewall.
Others who will impact the squad and make things interesting in the practice room are Andras Luckas-Farcus, Alex Sordrager, Jose Morales, Mason Meitzenheimer, Skyler Mongan, Dallas Boger, and Mason Hatch.
Coach Todd lists upperclassmen leadership as among his team strengths.
"having some State Tournament experience coming back in the room always starts the season with enthusiasm," noted Todd.
Todd is assisted this season by Ted Reis, and assistant Andy Bierman.