Leavenworth senior Zach Thiel had to adjust to his new home a few years ago when he and his family moved to the First City.
“Basketball has always been my pride and joy, I have been playing it since I was 5,” Thiel said. “Since I started playing it’s changed a lot since my old school. I keep trying to get better. My old school (Plainsville, Missouri) was 26-3 and I got here and you had to work for it because you never know what’s going to happen the next day.
“The competition is harder. The school here is bigger, kids are bigger and stronger.”
He battled his whole career playing in the Sunflower League, arguably the state’s best, and will hope to go out on top as the school exits from its relationship with the conference.
“We can’t do anything about it, it was a hard decision, but we will have to live with it,” Thiel said. “I will work as hard as I can to help us get some wins. I would say most (kids) didn’t want us to leave even though we definitely got our butts kicked quite a bit.”
He has plenty of goals heading into this final season.
“I definitely want to get more than one Sunflower League win this year and help all my teammates get better,” Thiel said. “I do want to play in college. I want to go into architecture. I haven’t talked to anybody yet so I will probably start putting some stuff out there. Doesn’t matter where I go.”
According to longtime head coach Larry Hogan, Thiel has nothing to worry about.
“Zach is an outstanding young man,” Hogan said. “He does well in school and is an extremely hard worker. You give him the opportunity to do extra work and he’ll do it. He shot 40 percent from 3-point range last year and we want him to do more than be a 3-point shooter, which he does and he’s working hard at that. We’re very pleased.
“He’ll get to play college ball somewhere, that won’t be an issue. He won’t hear anything until next year sometime. He’ll have opportunities to play college basketball.”
Thiel works hard to maintain his progress toward playing in college and also likes to delve into some of the cooler aspects of older times.
“I usually go to the gym a lot,” Thiel said. “I go thrift shopping and I like the old stuff and go in and smell the old smells. I like antiques. I was shopping for my mom, who really likes chickens, and found some really old chicken salt and pepper shakers. I like going to the stores and looking around and finding old stuff.”