West boys basketball is ready to start over

Dec. 8—MANKATO — Maybe instead of numbers, the Mankato West boys basketball team should wear name tags early in the season.

"We might need it," coach Jeremy Drexler joked.

The Scarlets lost the top seven players from last season and return only two players with much varsity experience. Throw in a late start to the season caused by the playoff run of the football team, and there's a lot of uncertainty, and excitement, to get the basketball season started.

"The staff is excited about coaching this group," Drexler said. "These guys have a chance to step in and create their own identity. I'm excited to see what these guys can do."

The Scarlets were 20-6 last season, including a a 16-6 record in Big Nine Conference games. But that was a senior-dominated team, leaving things a bit thin in the experience department. Drexler said he'd like to play nine or 10 guys, and there are several players competing for those spots.

"We're going to find guys that play well together and mix and match different groups," Drexler said. "We have a lot of strong role guys."

The seniors are Michael Henderson, Trey Satre, Matthew Smith and Nathan Stoffel, while the juniors are Landon Dimler, Mason DuRose, Wilson Magers, Calvin O'Connor, Emmett Olson and Talay Sartell.

Dimler is a a transfer from Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton. O'Connor just joined the team following the football season, and Stoffel and Magers have been injured, so the rotation might take some time to develop.

Sophomores Maurice Staley and Kyle Steinke will also compete for varsity time.

Without much size, the Scarlets will likely be more of a perimeter shooting team.

"We have a lot of guys who are ready to play and have something to prove," Smith said. "Every day at practice, it's good competition. Everybody can play."

Without much experience on the roster, Smith, one of the West tri-captains, said it took a while for leadership roles to develop, but each practice brings another opportunity to work together. Many of the players worked together on the junior varsity last season.

"This is more of a team and not a solo thing," Smith said. "It's an exciting time, and we're ready to get after it."

The Scarlets open the season at home Thursday against Northfield.

Follow Chad Courrier on Twitter @ChadCourrier.