FRONTENAC — With many of the players on the Frontenac High School boys’ basketball team making the transition from football season, the Raiders will look to use their tough loss in the state championship game as motivation moving forward.
Despite multi-sport athletes having less practice time due to the extended football season, the Raiders won’t allow a little controversy to slow them down.
“Last season, we graduated four seniors who were really good leaders,” FHS head coach Ryan Varsolona said. “We’ll miss their leadership, but it’s going to be different this season because everybody now knows the system we want to run. The kids will come in with that knowledge, instead of needing that time to adapt. I feel like they have a pretty good grasp of it after the summer, so they know what we’re trying to do and we expect to hit the ground running.”
As a result of the late start, the Raiders will have to rely on their experience to make the quick turnaround.
“With the first game coming up on Friday, we will have to adjust quickly,” Varsolona said. “The main thing is that we have to make sure these guys recuperate from football. Basketball is a long season and I want to make sure they have a chance to detox and ease into it. We don’t want them wearing out too quickly. It was a really good year for them and I hope they keep that momentum going. I don’t want them to hit the ground running and end up hating being in the gym, so we just want them to ease into it.”
Frontenac returns five seniors who are ready to make the most of their final campaign.
“Every year, you just want your seniors to be leaders on and off the floor,” Varsolona said. “We just look for them to show the younger kids that you have to outwork everybody, whether you’ve earned a spot on the team or not. You have to outwork everybody each day, and that’s what I’m hoping to see this season. I just want them to bring it and get better each day.”
Varsolona is set to begin his second year as Frontenac’s head coach after leading the Raiders to 14-9 in his first year at the helm.
“You better be prepared when you play in the CNC,” Varsolona said. “There’s a lot of great coaches in this league, so there are no off nights. You have to stay healthy, and that’s one of the things that helped us last season. We were able to keep our guys on the floor throughout the year and that was huge. There’s so many coaches who have been to the state tournament and won, so you have to have your team prepared every single night.”
Getting ready to start a new season on the heels of a tough loss in football, the Raiders aren’t about to let another opportunity slip away.
“We just have to focus on getting better each day, that’s the main thing I want us to focus on,” Varsolona said. “The playoffs are a long ways off, and if we’re worried about that, we’re not going to be able to focus on the task at hand. I just want us to come in each day and get better than we were the day before.”
— Jordan Buckamneer is the sports editor of the Pittbsurg Morning Sun. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @jbuckamneer.