There’s going to be a lot of changeover for Adams Central boys basketball, following a year where the Patriots went 17-7 and qualified for the state tournament. Thanks to graduation and a transfer, AC will be without players that represented 73 percent of the team’s scoring last season.
The Patriots bring back one starter and their top two options off the bench, but AC head coach Zac Foster said it could take some time for the younger guys to adjust to the game speed.
“We’re excited about our group. We’ll be different but we think we have some guys that have some abilities and are looking forward to being in new roles,” he said. “We like the versatility of our team. Any time you lose 70-some percent of your scoring and production, you’re going to have a lot of new faces in new places. But we do feel really good about our potential.”
Foster said by the end of last year the coaching staff could just say one phrase and the experienced players would know what to do and would execute it. But through this year’s preseason, he’s finding that he’s enjoying being able to go back to coaching what is supposed to happen and breaking down plays with the inexperienced group. He likes to see the kids grow and the sense of urgency they share knowing that this is their time to shine.
Adams Central has three players coming back that saw plenty of time on the court over the last two seasons in senior Gavin Lipovsky and juniors Tyler Slechta and Cameron Foster. Slechta, who stands at 6-feet, 2-inches, averaged 4.6 points per game, while Foster (6-0) added 4.4 and Lipovsky (6-2) chipped win with 3.5 points per contest.
The Patriots head coach said those three are going to have to take on bigger roles from what they’ve had before, but he believes they’re anxious to do so.
“Those three guys…are looked to for leadership and looked to for guidance. All three of them had good summers,” Zac Foster said. “Gavin took a step forward this summer; we needed that because we’re not overly tall. We do feel we’re pretty athletic, but he’s probably our best athlete. We really need him to be aggressive and confident.
“Tyler is our one returning starter, and predominantly his first few years he’s been just a defender. I think he’s one of the best defenders in the state, but he’s obviously going to have to expand his role. I think he’s looking forward to that. And I think Cameron is going to do what he’s done in the past for us as well. I think all three of those guys are looking forward to leadership positions on our team.”
Foster believes the team’s versatility will carry it through any early season struggles. He said the Patriots have six or seven guys that can contribute to the team’s success. Over the last three years, the Patriots have relied on three players to make up the bulk of the success, but Foster said it can be anybody this year’s squad to go off on any given night.
Defensively, the coach said Adams Central is going to have fly around the court to create pressure, as teams with size could have an advantage.
Adams Central opens the season on the road against Aurora before its home opener against Holdrege on Friday. In the past, AC has gone to places like Wayne and Bennington for holiday tournaments, but this year the Patriots will be hosting their own holiday tournament.
While it will be nice to be in a familiar setting and get to enjoy the comfort of home after a game, Foster said he will miss the team bonding that occurs when the team is together on the bus for a while.
“I really, really think when teams travel, they grow,” he said. “The more time your team can spend together off the floor, I think, the tighter your team becomes. I like traveling with our team, but there are obviously positives to hosting as well.
“We’ll be excited to play at home, get another couple homes games an not travel as far. I think for parents, families and fans it’s going to be way better… There are definitely advantages to playing here and playing good competition. Bennington is always a quality program, and Boone Centrall and Broken Bow have had success too.”