KINGSBURG – With a senior-heavy lineup, the Kingsburg boys basketball team is hoping the 2017-18 season is the year of the Vikings in the Central Section Division IV playoffs.
This year, the Vikings move from Div. III to Div. IV. And with multi-time defending champ Immanuel being elevated from Div. IV to Div. III, Kingsburg head coach Todd Brown thinks a Section title could be there for the taking.
“I think it's going to be wide open,” Brown said. “And hopefully we'll be in the running.”
There's no reason why Brown shouldn't think the Vikings could make a run at the Section crown with Kingsburg's roster featuring nine seniors who have all played for Brown before.
“We have a lot of seniors who have been playing together for a long time,” Brown said. “We're hoping that experience pays off.”
Last year, Kingsburg went 12-17 overall and 2-8 in the tough Central Sequoia League that included both Div. III champion Selma and Div. IV champ Immanuel.
Being tested that often for the past few years, Brown said, will have Kingsburg knowing what they need to do to get the job done.
Brown said the team will lack size, but he hopes to use that to the team's advantage with pace of play and his confidence in his guard's shooting.
“We're small,” Brown said. “And some people would think of that as a disadvantage. But we want to try to use that to our advantage and speed teams up.”
Of the team's returning players include all five starters from last season.
That includes returning point guard Ryan Flippo, who has verbally committed to NCAA Div. III Colorado College. Brown said Flippo is expected to sign with the Tigers during the February signing period. Last year, Flippo was a second team All-CSL selection.
“He's just a really solid, strong guard,” Brown said. “Since he's so strong, we are wanting him to attack a little more this year.”
Also returning is guard Jeremy Ray, who Brown called one of the area's best shooters as well as wing Bryce Whiteside and guard Kaleb Hernandez.
“I think those are going to be our main guys,” Brown said. “But we will be even deeper.”
Brown said going into the year, the team will focus on improving on things he didn't think it did well last season.
“We want to be more mentally tough,” he said. “We want to do a better job of taking care of the ball.”
Two years ago, the Vikings made the Central Section Div. III semifinals. Last year, they made the quarterfinals.
This year, with Kingsburg being moved to Div. IV and Immanuel moving up to Div. III, Brown wants the team to make a prolonged playoff push.
Said Brown: “We want this to be a memorable year for the seniors. Our goal is to go further (in the playoffs).”