Flyers return four starters, start season tonight
By LARRY LEEDS, Sports Editor
The Chester Flyers boys' basketball numbers have dwindled to 15 high school players and one eighth-grader who will be seeking a varsity uniform this winter.|
However, for Eric Knight, who is entering his third year as head coach of the Flyers, there are four returning players who saw a lot of minutes last season.
Austin Opdahl will be returning to guide the team from his point guard spot. Last season, Opdahl scored 16 points per game and pulled down almost six rebounds per contest.
Kyle Heyn will be back on the court for the Flyers and will be asked to be the defensive stopper once again.
Ken Shaffner returns and will be asked to play big roles in the paint on both the offensive and defensive ends.
Cole Acheson returns for the Flyers after an injury shortened his season a year ago. He will be looked upon to score.
"We have five or six other guys who are learning their roles and will be key for us in order to win basketball games this season," said Knight.
The Flyers finished the 2011-12 season with a 5-16 overall mark.
Chester's strength this season is the number of returnees to the lineup.
"We return a large group that all saw significant minutes as varsity basketball players," said Knight. "We will look for that experience to help on both ends of the floor. We are a small team that will try and get the ball up the floor offensively."
The lack of size is what worries Knight the most heading into the new season.
"We are a small team that will have to defend as a team in order to be effective on that end of the floor," he said.
Jalen Miller, Tyler Backus and Mitch Schwartz graduated in the spring.
Knight tabs Sioux Valley, Flandreau and McCook Central/Montrose as the teams to beat in the Big East Conference.
"Sioux Valley has a very talented group of returnees," he said. "Flandreau returns several excellent players from a team that made a post push last season, and McCook Central/Montrose is a quality team year in and year out."
He picks Oldham-Ramona-Rutland as the favorite in the district tournament.
Adam Gale will be assisting Knight this season.
Chester opens the season Friday (tonight) when the Flyers host Flandreau at 6:15 p.m.
The remainder of the schedule is as follows: Dec. 11 at Howard, 4 p.m.; Dec. 14 Tri-Valley, 6:15; Dec. 18 at McCook Central/Montrose (in Salem), 6:15; Dec. 21 at Oldham-Ramona-Rutland (in Rutland), 6:30; Dec. 29 Lake Preston (at Brookings), 1:30; Jan. 3-5 Big East Tournament, TBA; Jan. 8 Centerville, 6:15; Jan. 10 Baltic, 8:00; Jan. 17 Sioux Valley, 6:15; Jan. 22 Canistota, 6:15; Jan. 29 at Parker, 6:15; Feb. 5 at Alcester-Hudson (in Alcester), 6:15; Feb. 7 at Colman-Egan (in Colman), 6:30; Feb. 11 at Tea, 6:15; Feb. 12 Garretson, 6:15; Feb. 15 Arlington, 6:30 p.m.; Feb. 18 Dell Rapids St. Mary, 6:15.