Nick Harthoorn is in an envious situation this season as coach of the Lynnville-Sully boys basketball team.
His Hawks return their entire starting lineup and nearly the entire roster from a team that was two games short of a third-straight trip to the Class 1A State Tournament a year ago.
Because of that, Lynnville-Sully might be the preseason favorite to win the South Iowa Cedar League conference, and one has to like its chances of getting back to state with having one of the most veteran lineups around.
"That makes things exciting for this year," Harthoorn said. "We're real optimistic about what we can accomplish."
That being said, Harthoorn also knows his guys have to keep their heads about them and think only in the short-term.
"At the same time, we know we have to do all the little things right so we can have that same success," he said. "We've talked about, for each guy, to think about an individual dream and a team dream for this season and what they can do on a daily basis to make those dreams come true.
"We're not focusing on a state tournament or anything like that since it's so far away."
Last year's team went 20-4, finished second in the SICL and reached the district final — where it suffered a heartbreaking 45-42 defeat to Gladbrook-Reinbeck. That game ended with the Hawks missing two three-pointers in the final six seconds.
The current Hawks' squad feaures four players that earned all-conference honors last year. Junior TJ Cunningham (6-foot-0) leads the team at the point guard position and is coming off an all-state football season at defensive back. Last season on the court, he earned second-team SICL honors after averaging a team-best 11.7 points per game, had 31 assists, 39 steals and 83 rebounds. He was a 44.3 percent field goal shooter.
Senior Nathan Russell (6-2) also was a second-team pick last year after scoring 10.9 ppg, leading the team in assists with 44 and finishing second in steals (44) and rebounds (148). He was a first-team all-district football pick at tight end this fall.
Fellow senior Brady Van Wyk and junior Darin Hofer also return to the starting lineup after earning all-conference honorable mention last year. Van Wyk (6-3) was fourth on the team in scoring at 7.7 ppg, second in assists (41), adding 33 steals and 134 rebounds. Hofer was the team's third-best scorer at 10.2 ppg and was its best three-point shooter — making 39.8 percent of them last year. Of his 86 made field goals, 49 were from beyond the arc. He also led the team in blocks with 29.
The other returning starter is senior Cale Van Wyk (6-2), who averaged 4.0 ppg, led the team in rebounds with 152, adding 17 blocks and 11 assists. In football, he was a first-team all-district pick the past two years leading the Hawks at quarterback.
Lynnville-Sully also returns a handful of quality non-starters. Junior Bailee Samson (5-11) is back after averaging 3.2 ppg, leading the team in steals with 53 (2.2 per game), adding 21 assists and 79 rebounds. Other returnees include seniors Casey Harthoorn, Ryan Jansen, Dave Trettin and sophomore Jake Brand.