It was a season of new for the Leavenworth Pioneers boys’ basketball team. After years under head coach Larry Hogan, the Pioneers had a new man on the sidelines with Prentes Potts leading the team. The Pioneers also returned to 6A under the new KSHSAA classification. Key contributors were transfers, Leavenworth joined the new United Kansas Conference and the Pioneers even had a new gym floor.
The season wrapped up Feb. 27 in a loss to Olathe East in the sub-state semifinals.
It ended the first season for the Pioneers under Potts with a 9-12 record.
Potts was asked to describe the season in a short sentence or two.
“We underachieved with the amount of talent we had,” Potts said. “But it was a good start.”
Potts said the biggest adjustment he had to make at Leavenworth was finding playing time for so many kids and getting them to gel together.
He said he learned more this season than his two state tournament runs as head coach at Schlagle.
“There are a ton of things I would have changed about this season,” Potts said. “I learned more from this season than the two trips to state with my former team. Playing time, eight-man rotation, more of a priority on roles and sharing the basketball.”
It was an up and down season for the Pioneers starting with an 0-3 record at their home shootout before winning five of their next six. The team limped to a 4-8 record to round out the year.
Potts said the biggest adjustment the team had to make was learning how to play with each other,
“The chemistry never was exactly how I wanted it to be,” Potts said.
The Pioneers did have success in the season though finishing the conference runner-up with a 6-4 record, including sweeps over Lansing and Turner. The team also picked up wins against Coffeyville and Olathe South. Potts said the Olathe South win was the team’s best performance of the season.
He said D’Monte Gaw and Jarrett Hensley were the team’s MVPs this season. He was also asked to name the most improved players.
“From the start of the season until the end, I would have to say Kenyon Myers or Nathan Dalby,” Potts said.
Gaw, Hensley and Dalby will all graduate this year along with Allen Tyler, Michael Saucer, Christian Walker, Lewis McLaughlin and Reggie Anderson. Potts said they will take a piece of him.
“This will be my first senior class that I have had at Leavenworth,” Potts said. “So they will definitely take a piece of me. They were a tough group to coach, but they were a great group to be around. I hope the underclassmen realize that nothing is given to you and that you have to be willing to work for everything.”
Looking ahead to next season, Potts said the team will be very young but skilled. He said they should be better at sharing the basketball and will be talented despite not having the same size as this year. He said the basketball program as a whole was successful this year despite underachieving on varsity.
“Overall, I think the program itself was very successful,” he said. “All programs won multiple games and our JV team won about 14 games,” he said. “When you are building a program you want the younger kids to buy in and put forth the effort and I think they did a very good job at that.”