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Archive for Wednesday, December 3, 2003

Veritas talented, but young

December 3, 2003

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This is the year that Veritas Christian builds a foundation for boys basketball.

But, rest assured, the Eagles don't want to stop there -- even if it is their first season playing a varsity schedule in the Kansas Christian Athletic Assn.

They'd like to build a nice majestic castle on top of the fresh slab, too.

"We want to win the KCAA state tournament," Veritas coach Doug Bennett said. "That's a goal of ours."

Lofty expectations, especially for a team with no seniors and just one junior, but the Eagles aren't short on talent -- not by a long shot.

Seven of the nine members are sophomores. Last year, they all played together on the Veritas freshman team, compiling a 17-2 record. As eighth graders, they went 19-1.

"We have talent, and we kept most of it," Bennett said. "Our challenge is going to be that we're young."

And, possibly, not real tall. The only junior, Ben Dunbar, stands at 5-foot-11, and both Shawn Rebman and Andrew Bartlow can stretch their way to 6-foot. But the lone tower on Veritas is sophomore Mark Randtke, who stands 6-4.

Last year, Randtke proved to be one of the Eagles' outstanding talents, averaging 15 points and 15 rebounds a game. As a big man, he has rare versatility, but the lack of other big men at Veritas will force Bennett to cut down on Randtke's dimensions.

"He has it all," Bennett said of Randtke. "He can play outside and knock down a three, but since he's our only 6-4 guy, we'll have to utilize him more inside."

It shouldn't be too much of a problem. Veritas has other options outside, including Kirk Long, the Eagles' lone freshman on the varsity squad. Long is a missionary student from the Philippines whom Bennett said averaged close to 25 points per game last year.

Other impact players include sophomore Casey Woods and Bartlow, both returning starters from last year's freshman team. Woods also served as the quarterback for the Eagles' eight-man football team this fall.

Regardless of the optimism toward the Eagles' talent, Bennett knows growing pains are inevitable with a brand-new varsity program. With that in mind, Bennett said effort and determination would be the key if the Eagles were going to scrap their way to a successful season.

"We condition really hard," Bennett said.

"If we're going to get it done, we're going to do it by hustle, and you can't hustle if you're not in shape."

Veritas opens Thursday at the Flint Hills Tournament.

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