Rams' boys are ready to go to Battle
You can go home again.
After a previous tenure as the head coach of the Pleasant Ridge High School’s boys’ basketball program, Pat Battle is back in Easton for round two.
Battle comes in for Drew Williams who left for a post at Tonganoxie High School after the Rams finished last season 5-16 overall and 3-13 in Northeast Kansas League play, including a Class 3A first-round sub-state loss at Silver Lake.
But the cupboard wasn’t left bare by any stretch as seniors Noah Trader and Breydon Baragary and junior Clayton Richter are three strong building blocks to start the rebuild with.
Then throw in a number of potentially strong contributors in seniors Logan Baker, Dayton Flack, Konner Walker and Glynn Smith while freshmen Conner Gibson and Matthew Schmidt could also provide some ample minutes of play for Pleasant Ridge.
“We have very solid overall team speed and athleticism as well as several players with varsity experience,” Battle said. “I believe that we have an intelligent group that is picking up the new system quickly.”
But a team doesn’t go 5-16 because a number of things are going well, so Battle was well aware of many areas of needed improvement.
“As a team, we are emphasizing better ball skills and rebounding both offensively and defensively,” Battle said. “We must improve on the boards if we are going to beat the teams we need to beat to have a competitive season.”
The players appear to have built up their level of assuredness.
“I have more confidence than last year,” Baragary aid. “This group has played together a lot. I know I can depend on them, there’s a comfort there.”
“On a competitive level, I think we play really well together and we don’t really care who scores,” Trader said. “We can rely on anyone to score. I think (Battle) has helped us with our competitive level and he just wants to play hard.”
The NEK will again be a logjam with teams battling at various sections of the standings with Maur Hill-Mount Academy – enjoyed an influx of former Immaculata players – Jefferson County North and Jackson Heights being the teams to beat, according to Battle.
“I think that anyone could finish from 4-8 with the rest of the pack,” Battle said. “That being said, I believe that we have the players to compete with the top teams in the league and we expect to finish in the top half of the league.”
Enough areas of improvement give the boys cause to believe they could have a much better year.
“It’s our consistency, we have improved on that a lot,” Baragary said. “I think our defense is better and there were times we couldn’t finish and we’d let people off the hook.
“We have to learn to play every possession like it’s 0-0.”
But they still have a lot of areas to fix.
“We need to get way better at our boxing out and rebounding,” Trader said. “I don’t think we are afraid to get hit, but we need to get better at boxing out and going after the ball and not just waiting for it.
“We need to start off the games better. Last year we’d start games on a 20-0 run down right off the bat and then we’d play the rest of the game decent. If we started better we’d be in more games. Our approach should have been better. If you are out there on the court you should want to compete. (If a player is not motivated) It’s not the coach’s fault…if you are down 20, you should still (play hard).”
2017-18 Pleasant Ridge Boys’ Basketball Schedule
Friday, Dec 1 at Oskaloosa (G 6/B 7:45 p.m.)
Tuesday, Dec 5 HOSTS Valley Falls (G 6/B 7:45 p.m.)
Wednesday, Dec 13 at Jackson Heights (G 6/B 7:45 p.m.)
Friday, Dec 15 HOSTS McLouth (G 6/B 7:45 p.m.)
Tuesday, Jan 2 at Jefferson County North (G 6/B 7:45 p.m.)
Friday, Jan 5 HOSTS Horton (G 6/B 7:45 p.m.)
Tuesday, Jan. 9 at Maur Hill-Mount Academy (G 6/B 7:45 p.m.)
Friday, Jan. 12 HOSTS Maranatha (G 6/B 7:45 p.m.)
Tuesday, Jan. 16 - Saturday, Jan. 20 at Valley Falls Tournament, TBD
Wednesday, Jan. 24 HOSTS Christ Prep, 6:30 p.m.
Monday, Jan. 29 - at Valley Falls (G 6/B 7:45 p.m.)
Tuesday, Jan. 30 HOSTS Oskaloosa (G 6/B 7:45 p.m.)
Friday, Feb. 2 at Maranatha (G 6/B 7:45 p.m.)
Tuesday, Feb. 6 HOSTS Jackson Heights (G 6/B 7:45 p.m.)
Friday, Feb. 9 at McLouth (G 6/B 7:45 p.m.)
Tuesday, Feb. 13 HOSTS Jefferson County North (G 6/B 7:45 p.m.)
Friday, Feb. 16 at Horton (G 6/B 7:45 p.m.)
Tuesday, Feb. 20 HOSTS Maur-Hill Mount Academy (G 6/B 7:45 p.m.)
Tuesday, Feb. 27 Sub-State Playoffs begin
March 8-10 Class 3A state tournament