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Rams hoops expecting big season under new coach

Jason Brown
The Leavenworth Times
Shown is Pleasant Ridge senior point guard Connor Gibson. Gibson was the Rams’ leading scorer last season and was named to the All-Northeast Kansas League second team.

All five starters from last season’s Pleasant Ridge boy’s basketball returned this season with high expectations following an 11-10 finish that ended with three consecutive losses.

The Rams return those starters under a new head coach as Isaac Jaramillo took over earlier this year. Jaramillo was an assistant coach for the University of Saint Mary men’s basketball team and has worked with MoKan Basketball. He said the team has adapted well to his new system and his expectations are high. 

“The players fit the system well, both offensively and defensively,” Jaramillo said. “Some things are new, like playing more man than zone, but those kinks will come out. With our system, the personnel we have and talking to some coaches around the league and area, we should be fighting for one of the top spots in our league.”

The Rams’ returners include Connor Gibson, Chase Wohlgemuth, Gavin Van Dyke, Devin Stutz and Walker Adams. Jaramillo said Gibson is setting a good example for his teammates in his senior year. 

“We expect him to be one of our lead by example guys and to have a big impact offensively,” he said, “whether that’s scoring for himself or making plays for others.”

The Rams also return Justin Johnston – who came off the bench last season – and are expecting newcomer Mason Hawk to contribute. 

“He (Johnston) fits our playing style really well,” Jaramillo said. “He is kind of a hybrid who can play multiple positions and also guard multiple positions, so we look for him to thrive as a mismatch for other teams.”

Jaramillo said his offensive system involves playing four guards around one big.

Like other teams, the Rams have had to adapt to the new rules and restrictions put in place to stop the spread of COVID-19. Jaramillo said those new protocols have not affected how his team prepared for the season and even gave them an opportunity to get closer. 

“We have a lot of guys who just love to play basketball, so getting them to the gym this summer was easy,” he said. “We played a lot of basketball during open gyms and even when we couldn’t get in the gym, they found a place to all play together outside. Being around each other a lot for this summer, I think will translate to chemistry on the court.”

So far it has as the Rams are off to a 3-0 start with wins against Maur Hill, Jackson Heights and McLouth. Pleasant Ridge returns to action Friday at Valley Falls. Tip is scheduled for 7 p.m.