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By Matt Browning
VYPE North Central Kansas
The official Webster’s Dictionary definition of complacency is the feeling of smug or uncritical satisfaction with oneself or one’s achievement.
Perhaps more so than anything else, complacency might be the biggest obstacle for Class 2A state boys basketball defending champion, Sacred Heart.
“All of these kids are winners, but I think becoming complacent is always a concern for a coach,” Sacred Heart coach Pat Martin said. “We have goals, but we know we have a bulls eye on our back. But I think the kids embrace that.”
Over the past two seasons, the Knights have gone 50-2., with the two losses coming back to back.
Sacred Heart won 25 consecutive games to open the 2015-2016 season, before falling to Jackson Heights in the 2A finals. The Knights lost to Hesston in last year’s opener, before winning 25 straight games, including the 2A title.
This season’s schedule will be more of a challenge than the previous two seasons.
Sacred Heart again opens the season against Hesston, this time on the road. They also play non-league games against Central Plains and Council Grove.
Add those with grueling league opponents like Southeast of Saline, Beloit and Ellsworth and the Knights will have to be focused night in and night out to accomplish what they have done in the previous two seasons.
“The target gets bigger and bigger for us every year,” said senior guard Caleb Jordan. “Everyone is going to be gunning for us, but we approach it as motivation. When clutch time comes, we know we can perform.”
Jordan, who has started since he was a freshman, will be the clear-cut leader for Sacred Heart and not only from a production standpoint, but also from an emotional prospective, too.
“He came a long way as a leader last year,” Martin said. “He figured out that he did not have to do everything on the floor. He’s worked hard this past offseason to be even better this year.”
It is not just Jordan for Sacred Heart, as the Knights return three other key players from last season.
Junior Trace Leners will be Sacred Heart’s defensive catalyst and he also averaged seven points and five rebounds, while shooting 65 percent from the floor last season. Also back is senior, Grant Herrenbuck, who is the Knights’ purist shooter. Last season, he shot 62 percent from the field.
Perhaps the key for Sacred Heart is point guard, Charlie Skidmore. He is given the task of replacing Stratton Brown, who averaged 13 points and shot 48 percent from three.
“He would have been starting for any other team in the state,” Martin said.
The Knights averaged 69 points per game, while shooting nearly 50 percent from the floor. Their scoring margin was over 20 points.
Martin knows it will be difficult to replicate those numbers, but he does not get caught up in trying to forecast statistics and results.
“I’m a one game at a time kind of a coach,” Martin said. “So for me, it all starts with Hesston.”
Jordan said he has discussed expectations with the rest of the team. He thinks it is just implied that their goal is to be playing the final game in March.
“Our goal in the end is sub-state and state,” Jordan said. “But e do try to take it one game at a time so that when the time comes for sub-state and state, we are ready.”