There are a lot of unknowns when it comes to Pirate Boys' Basketball this season. Senior guard Brett Delage, who led the team in scoring last season with 15.3 points per game in 28 games, injured his knee late in the final game of the football season. He opted not to have surgery and will attempt to play basketball this season.
"Brett is ready to give it a whirl," said Pirate head coach Greg Garmen in his 17th season. "He'll start cutting and jogging with the doctor the next time he sees him. We'll see what he looks like then. Brett wants to be playing in December sometime. It's just a matter of how it goes."
But that is how important Delage is to the Pirates. If he plays and is effective the Pirates will be a force in Section 8AA this season. If he is unable to play the aggressive style he displayed last season the Pirates will be forced to play a different style.
The Pirates open their season Saturday, Dec. 1 at home against Park Rapids at 2:30 p.m.
What we do know is the Pirates are led by sophomore Aaron Hollcraft, who averaged 11.2 points and a team-high 7.8 rebounds in 28 games as a freshman. Also, senior center Alec Boike is a physical presence in the paint, scoring 5.6 points per game and pulling down 4.2 rebounds per game in 28 games.
"Aaron is much bigger and stronger," Garmen said of the talented 5-foot-11 guard. "He has really improved. He was smooth last year and he's even smoother this year. He's going to have to handle the ball a lot more."
Also stepping into larger roles this season are senior guards Alex Boone and Travis Vatthauer, who both played in 26 or more games last season.
"Without Brett we'll need to sort it out and take up the slack," coach Garmen said. "We'll find out more in our scrimmage. Boike and Hollcraft will certainly carry us and Booner and Vatthauer are two we have a pretty good feeling about. There's a lot of playing time up for grabs."
Besides the seven seniors, which also include centers Seth Solheim, Jacob Lutz and Seth Knaack, who played in seven games last season, the Pirates have three juniors in guards Cody Klamm, Hunter Hulst and center Michael Hefta, and a number of talented sophomores.
Coach Garmen said Jonathon Miller is one sophomore to look out for.
"We have some solid sophomores," he said. "Jonathon Miller really improved his game and should make an impact. I think people will be impressed with him and his basketball skills. He's an X-factor that can surprise people and our coaching staff. He's one that could do it."
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Section 8AA is pretty much wide open this season with a lot of top teams from last season losing their talent.
"The north half is Crosby-Ironton, Pequot Lake and maybe us," Garmen said. "Everybody lost quite a bit. People are talking Crosby-Ironton. In the south half everyone talking Hawley, Pelican Rapids and Perham. It is more wide open than it has been."
Garmen sees the Pirates as a better shooting team than a year ago.
"We are small so hopefully we're quick," he said. "We'll get out and go if we can. We'll be a better overall shooting team than we have been. Booner, Vatthauer and Hollcraft can shoot well.
"We have good numbers all the way up and down," coach Garmen continued. "We need to avoid those injuries and hope, keep our fingers crossed, that Brett can come in. Brett is a gym rat so it's tough to see him sitting on the sidelines."