Kennedy's boys basketball team figures to be a contender for the Tri-River Conference championship in the upcoming season. Plenty of returning talent should help propel the Trojans into playoff contender status they've maintained for years.
It might take time for the team to finally practice together, though. A large portion of the team's roster is still practicing and playing with the football team, which challenges Coquille on Saturday, Nov. 27, for the 2A state championship, so the basketball team's varsity practices have been put on hold.
Key returners for Kennedy will be senior guards Riley Cantu and Stephan Salinas and junior post Brett Boen, according to Kennedy head coach Karl Schmidtman.
"(Riley) is a great shooter, a great athlete and a good player and person," Schmidtman said. "Stephan is ready for a breakout season this year. He was solid for us in the spring, but we think he is ready to turn into a star player for us this season. He is one of the best ball handlers and shooters in the league. Brett is long and likes to play physical in the post. He will be a shot blocker rebounder and finisher around the rim."
Those three will be joined by a cast of upperclassmen, including two exchange students, Jakub Janura and Emilio Paya. Schmidtman expects to be at or near the top of the Tri-River Conference, but the competition will be stiff.
Salem Academy, which won the conference championship last year with an overall record of 14-1, figures to be a tough out for any team. Western Christian will be another difficult test for the Trojans as the Pioneers add 6-7 senior post Chaz Storm to the fold. Storm, who played with Santiam last season, will join 6-5 senior Austin Sladek and immediately make Western Christian a team in title contention.
Kennedy will need everyone on the team to be firing on all cylinders to compete for league gold.
"The keys for us will be the ability to use our depth and play with toughness and energy," Schmidtman said. "I believe that we are the deepest team in our league and our bench will be vital to our success throughout the season. We have a lot of guys from starters to bench players that can make plays and take advantage of the mismatches from our opponents."
Kennedy will play its first game on Saturday, Dec. 4, at 7:30 p.m. against Portland Adventist Academy in a non-league contest.
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.