WENATCHEE — Robin Kansky’s senior-dominated boys basketball team at Wenatchee High School could be in the mix for the Big Nine Conference title this season.
But in order for that to happen, Kansky needs to see more shots at the basket.
“We need to shoot the ball more,” he said. “We’re getting better at it. A lot of the kids, it takes a while to get that shooting stroke down. I mean, we’re coming along. We recently played in a jamboree, and we did OK.”
Kansky — returning for his second season as head coach for the Panthers — lost a number of seniors from last season’s 9-13 squad (4-8 in Big Nine Conference play).
“Only three are returning from that team,” said Kansky. “Michael Torres was our point guard last season; Caleb Akpodiete, is a senior shooting guard; and Rivers Cook is a senior post player. Those will be our three key guys.”
The other two starters look to be Jamison Jelsing, a 6-3 senior who will start at power forward; while senior Aiden Veneros will start at small forward.
Those who play on the varsity team should see plenty of time on the court.
“I’m looking at a nine-man rotation, so the first few games we’ll get everybody in,” he said. “But I’ll also want to swing two guys up each week from the junior varsity team.”
Kansky is not only worried about this season’s team, but he’s trying to build varsity experience for the underclassmen.
“That’s because after those first six guys — we have six seniors — we’re pretty young. We have two sophomores and a freshman,” he said.
Those who do play better be in shape.
“I like to run. We’re going to push the ball on offense,” said Kansky. “But if we can’t get that fast break layin, we’ll set up the play. But I do like to get up and down the court. It’s just fun to watch.”
Defensively, the Panthers plan to pack it in, play mainly man-to-man defense.
“We’ll try some (defensive) pressure,” he said. “But I want to make opposing teams try to beat us from the outside.”
Kansky expects Davis and Eastmont will be the favorites in the conference, “but I think we’ll be in the middle of everything.”
Kansky is no stranger to the Wenatchee students. Before his head coaching gig, he was a boys assistant coach for the Panthers for a few seasons. Before that he was Wenatchee’s girls varsity head coach for six seasons.
“For 38 years I was a teacher,” he said. “And I love trying to teach kids. I love it when they care about the game, care about each other. The kids are positive, so excited. Excited to get better. Their attitude is their biggest strength right now. They put in the hard work.”
He’d like to see this squad make the playoffs and perhaps qualify for state.
But he has higher goals for them.
“I’ll be happy if I think the players know they are valued. If they all come out of this realizing they’re a better person at the end of the season,” he said. “It’d be nice to go to the playoffs and state. But most of all I want them to know that they’re valued on this team.”
Wenatchee varsity roster (as of Nov. 30)
G Caleb Akpodiete, 6-1, sr.; G Jackson Bishop, 6-4, sr.; P Rivers Cook, 6-4, sr.; G/P Jamison Jelsing, 6-3, sr.; G/P Thomas McCarthy, 6-5, soph; G Zach Noyd, 6-0, soph; G Nahed Sarameh, 5-8, sr.; G Michael Torres, 6-2, sr.; G Travis Torres, 5-8, fr.; G Aiden Veneros, 6-1, sr.
Wenatchee varsity schedule
Dec. 1 — at Othello, 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 3 — NORTH CREEK, 1:45 p.m.
Dec. 6 — ELLENSBURG, 7 p.m.
Dec. 9 — at West Valley-Yakima, 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 10 — at Cheney, 5 p.m.
Dec. 16 — at Moses Lake, 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 17 — EASTMONT, 6:30 p.m.
Dec. 19-21 — WENATCHEE TOURNAMENT
Jan. 3 — at Kentwood, 7 p.m.
Jan. 6 — at Davis, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 10 — vs. Eastmont, Towne Toyota Center, 7 p.m.
Jan. 13 — SUNNYSIDE, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 14 — at Eisenhower, 6:30 p.m.
Jan. 20 — WEST VALLEY-YAKIMA, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 21 — MOSES LAKE, 6:30 p.m.
Jan. 27 — at Eastmont, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 28 — DAVIS, 6:30 p.m.
Feb. 10 — at Sunnyside, 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 11 — EISENHOWER, 6:30 p.m.