Collins-Maxwell-Baxter boys baksetball coach Gary Plunkett has been around the program for nine years, and apparently he has seen enough.
In his first year as head coach after serving as a junior varsity and middle school coach for the past eight seasons, Plunkett has some clear and direct goals for the Raiders and their future.
“It’s been 10 years since CMB has had a winning record in boys basketball,” Plunkett said. “It’s my goal to come in change the attitude and give a totally different mindset and philosophy. We just want a 100 percent change from what’s been going on.”
The Raiders, who are coming off a 3-19 season, will have to battle a little harder than usual at the beginning of this season due to season-ending injuries to would-be senior starters Andrew Broderick and Cody Schmitz. Broderick was lost to a knee injury early in the football season, while Schmitz fought through a knee injury of his own only to find out that it would hold him out of basketball.
Broderick was the team’s top scorer at 13.3 points per game last season, while Schmitz was third at 9.9. That leaves senior Josh Zeiser, CMB’s top returning scorer at 11 points per game last season, with an even bigger role than his senior status would have given him already.
Underclassmen will be a big part of the Raiders’ season, but luckily for them, they have multiple players that are more than capable of accepting the challenge. Junior Jason Huntrods will return to floor after seeing 17 games as a sophomore. Sophomores Zach Samson and Austin Moorman will try to fill the gaps left by the injured seniors, much they successfully did during football season.
Three freshmen _ Patrick Girard, Bryce Kemp and Tommy Galloway _ will also see plenty of minutes. Girard and Kemp stand at six-foot-four and six-foot-five, respectively, and give CMB a much-welcomed boost in the post that has been vacant for a nearly a decade.
“In the nine years I’ve been with CMB basketball, it’s been a while since we’ve had anybody over six-foot,” Plunkett said. “We’ve never had that luxury before, and we’ve had kids five-foot-ten to six-foot playing center. It’s going to be nice to have true post guys because we haven’t had one for a few years.”
Despite the injuries that have already occurred and the general youth of the team, Plunkett is optimistic to see what the new-look Raiders can do. Even in the redesigned Heart of Iowa Conference that did away with the Large and Small divisions, Plunkett is keeping that goal of a winning season close to mind.
“I think we can compete with a lot of people now with our situation,” Plunkett said. “But I’m really not one to keep track of other kids. I’ve never worried about other teams because I’ve never been in that role to worry. That’s a little bit different for me.”
CMB will open its season with a conference game at South Hamilton on Nov. 29.