The Pequot Lakes boys’ basketball team opened the regular season with a different head coach for the first time in 12 seasons when Ben Starns replaced Garry Grewe as coach in the Patriots’ 53–47 non-conference win over Aitkin on Friday, Nov. 22.
The win over the Gobblers was also the first varsity basketball game played in the new Pequot Lakes Athletic Center.
“It’s exciting for people to see our new facilities,” Starns said. “It’s also neat that was had 44 kids in grades 9-12 come out for basketball. We have a group of kids coming along who really love the sport.”
The top scorer from last season, Jordan Redmond, has graduated. But Pequot Lakes’ next four scorers have returned – seniors Travis Jacobson (11.7 points), Tyler Tappe (6.9), Brett Peterson (5.9) and John Craig (3.6). Other letterwinners are Keegan Johnson, Jack Kreitz and Connor Davich.
Others who could contribute are C.J. Borleis, Eric Elverum and Henry Liedl.
Last winter, the Patriots finished 6-4 in the Mid-State Conference and 11-16 overall in the final of 11 seasons as head coach for Garry Grewe.
“Our defense will look the same, but our offense will be a little different,” Starns said. “We’ll be running a lot more motion stuff. Our kids will also be reading defenses, which will look different. Our success depends on the strong senior leadership.”
Starns said that the Patriots “want to keep the tradition of hard work.”
“I don’t see anything free on our schedule, so we’re going to have to battle every night,” he said. “We need to work hard, starting with our returning players who bring experience with them.”
Starns adds the Patriots are making some adjustments on the court.
“We’re making some changes, but we know coach Grewe had built some nice things here,” said Starns, who was a volunteer basketball coach with the Pequot Lakes boys’ team last year. “That was a great experience. It was helpful, and gave me an opportunity to know the kids.”
The boys’ basketball season for the Minnesota State High School League opened two weeks earlier this season because of a scheduling conflict next spring with Target Center.
Alex Kunesh and Bret Sergent are assistant coaches. The Subsection 8AA first round is scheduled for Feb. 27.