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Highland boys basketball coach aiming for winning season

1/3/2013 - West Side Leader
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By Sean Patrick

GRANGER — First-year Highland boys basketball head coach Mike Murphy said his team is looking to top the .500 mark this season.

“I think it’s been 10 years since we’ve had a winning season, so No. 1 we’ve got to get that monkey off our back,” he said. “We also think we can compete for the Suburban League title. That’s definitely a goal for us as well.”

Last season, the team finished 10-11 overall and 6-8 in league play. Through the team’s first eight games this season, Highland was 5-3 overall and 3-2 in league play.

“I think we’re making progress. We’re doing some good things,” Murphy said. “I think we are defending much better. The last couple of games we’ve shot the ball well. We’re scoring a lot more points than we did last year and giving up less, so that’s a good thing. And I look for even better results the rest of the season.”

Murphy said the team is doing a good job of adapting to his system.

“It took a little while, but they’re getting there,” he said. “Last year, they played a lot of zone defense and were very methodical on offense. I’m trying to stress more pressure on defense and kind of run and use our athleticism on offense. It’s a lot different, but I think the kids like it better.”

According to Murphy, the team has a “decent level of experience” overall.

“We have four seniors, but really only two seniors who played significant time last year,” he stated. “The core of our team is our sophomore class. We have two sophomore starters. So it’s a little bit different. Those sophomore starters actually started at the end of last season as freshmen.”

Those sophomore starters are point guard Tanner Houska and guard Brogan Scott.

“Tanner kind of runs the show, and he has the ball in his hands a lot. He certainly is a core leader for us. He’s averaging 7.5 points and 3.5 to 4 assists per game,” Murphy said. “Brogan is probably the best player on our team. He’s averaging 15.5 points per game. He missed three games with a sprained ankle, but he’s back now. He’s 6-foot-5 and a gym rat, so he’s going to be a good one for the remainder of this season and the next two.”

The two returning seniors who played significant minutes last year are center Austin Adams and forward Brennan Scott.

“Austin’s a four-year starter. He’s a football player — he’s a bigger kid at 6-foot-7 — and he’s definitely one of the leaders on our team. He gets 8 points and over 10 rebounds per game,” the coach said. “Brennan is definitely the fire of our team. He’s a scrappy guy who gets all of the loose balls. He’s definitely an emotional leader. He’s averaging 13.5 points per game.”

The other seniors on the team are Jordan Frederick and Austin Casenhiser.

“Jordan is a starting guard for us. He’s definitely one of our shooters,” Murphy said. “And Austin is my first guy off the bench. He’s a guard who brings in some offense when he comes in the game — that’s for sure.”

According to the coach, Highland has an eight-man rotation this season. The other two key players in that rotation are sophomore Coltin Kinsey and junior Myles Houska.

“Coltin backs up Tanner at the point and also plays two-guard for us,” Murphy said. “Myles is a big guy for us. He’s about 6-foot-5 and plays both the center and forward.”

Next up for Highland is a trip to Wadsworth High School for a game tomorrow, Jan. 4. Tipoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.

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