With influx of young talent & returning leaders, new coach Dawson Nofziger is excited for the season

PIONEER PHOTO: TANNER RUSS - Country Christian freshman Judah Syphard is one of a large group of freshman to come into the basketball program, and is one of a handful that swings up to the varsity roster.
Coach: Dawson Nofziger

2017-18: 4-21

Key losses: David Girrens

Key returners: Drew Halverson, Chris Lambert

Outlook: After what can only be described as a disappointing 2017-18 season saw the Country Christian boys' basketball team wrack up a meager four wins, the team will look to rebound in a big way in the upcoming season.

There are plenty of changes in the upcoming season that will help shape the teams outcome, but returning faces may not be one of them. After only graduating David Girrens last year, Country Christian returns several familiar faces, including senior Drew Halverson and junior Christ Lambert. New head coach and former assistant coach Dawson Nofziger will look to that duo to be leaders on the court.

"(Drew Halverson) was our best player last year, he kind of carried the team," Nofziger said. "Everything kind of ran through him. He got all-league honors last year, (and) he'll be a big one we'll look to lead with how young we are this year."

"Another (leader) is Chris Lambert," Nofziger continued. "He was one of our captains last year, I think he'll emerge as a leader again this year as a junior. He's really good for the morale of the guys. If anyone is down, he likes to keep them up and keep things positive. I think he'll grow as a leader this year too."

Nofziger assumes the role of head coach from his father, Doug. The change came about with Doug wanting to watch his other children compete in college basketball more. Dawson stepped up from assistant, a position he had held for the last few years. The elder Nofziger will stay with the team in an assistant coaching capacity.

"Basketball has been a love of mine since I was a kid, and now that playing is over, the dream is to just coach and make these boys fall in love with the game the way I did," Nofziger said of taking the head coaching position. "I'm excited for the chance. Not much will change on the bench. We both were leaders on the bench, me and my dad, so not much will change in that aspect."

Another thing worth noting about the upcoming season is the influx of freshman basketball players. Five freshmen are listed on the varsity roster, and eight on the junior varsity roster. Nofziger believes the competition from younger players will force his returning varsity squad to compete more in practice, leading to better results in league play.

"We've had low numbers the last few years, and haven't been able to compete and play with each other, get the chemistry down," Nofziger said. "That's the biggest thing is the team chemistry. We need to really compete with each other, that'll be a really big part of where our success comes from."

The Valley-10 at a glance contains a host of familiar faces. Last year's league champions Damascus Christian figure to be the team to beat again, and North Clackamas Christian and Grand View Christian Academy (both of whom had an 11-5 league record) will also be dangerous.

New to the league this year is Life Christian, a former 2A school looking to find life at the 1A classification after going 3-15 last year.

Nofziger is excited about the upcoming season. Now at the helm of the team, he is confident his team can reach the league playoffs, and eventually make its way into the postseason after missing out last year.

"As a team, our goal is to make districts first and foremost, and then come out of it representing our league in state," Nofziger said. "I think that's a doable, reachable goal. It'll be a big improvement from last year, and I think they're up for it."

First Game: Nov. 29 vs. Eddyville Charter, 7:00p: Win 65-59

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