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Cedar boys have a strong returning cast

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HARTINGTON — This could be a big year for the Cedar Catholic High School boys basketball team.

A year removed from an 18-8 season that ended in the district final, the Trojans returns tons of firepower from that squad and could be in line for another strong season under head coach Matt Steffen who has taken six Cedar Catholic teams to state – the last time in 2015.

“The strength of our team this year will be depth,” Steffen said. “We have more depth at all positions this year than I can remember having.

“We can possibly play up to 10 players.”

The roster will include a number of returning lettermen that includes senior Myles Thoene who averages 14 ppg while juniors Tate Thoene (15 ppg), Charlie Schroeder (11 ppg) and Carter Arens (nine ppg) will make up the bevy of veteran firepower.

Sophomores Jaxson Bernecker and Carson Arens will also be expected to provide some excitement.

“I feel we have the potential to be a very good team,” Steffen said. “We have four returning starters and quite a few kids who played a lot of minutes. We will need to develop a rotation and team chemistry. We have some size and some experience at the five position. It will be important to get the ball inside and work inside out.

“Our season will hinge on our ability to dictate tempo and execute on offense and defense. We will also need to rebound well to be successful in games against good athletes in our conference. Our weakness is if we don’t execute the little things and if we don’t play as a team.”

Myles Thoene is very optimistic that the squad will benefit from all the time the returning players have put in so far while wearing a Trojans uniform.

“I am excited about our team this year because we had a lot of young guys playing last year and now we have a lot of experience and we learned a lot,” he said. “Having most of the team back is going to be really huge for us. The experience we have will help us figure out how to win those tough games. We were one game away from making it to state and we learned a lot from that game and it motivated us.”

The Trojans players were able to also find some time to work on their craft despite the many obvious obstacles.

“When the (pandemic) first started, we weren’t able to go to the gym, but we could go to the park and later we were able to go to a tournament or two,” Thoene said.

The schedule is going to be a bear. C1 schools such as Boone Central/Newman Grove Norfolk Catholic, Wayne, O’Neill and Pierce will line up to take down the Trojans while outside of the conference, Dakota Valley and Laurel-Concord-Coleridge will be very good litmus tests for Steffen’s crew.

“On top of our regular tough conference schedule, we are playing in the always competitive Holiday tourney in Wayne and we will be participating in the Knights Classic in Fremont after New Year’s and our own Mid-States Conference Tournament,” Steffen said.

The goal is to push the ball whenever possible and it could be a key in seeing the Trojans make the road to a state run that be a byproduct of lessons learned a year ago.

“We started three Sophomores, one junior and one senior,” Steffen said. “We played two freshmen quite a few minutes. The lone senior from last years’ team, Brady Steffen will be hard to replace, but I feel we have a lot of depth and expect someone to step up.

“We return seven of our top eight players this year, we will have more depth and more experience. We have kids with good chemistry, and I expect us to be good.”

Thoene said that he is aware of the case count going up, but only for a while before things get back to some semblance of normalcy.

“That’s my hope for now,” he said. “I feel confident we will play. The state will do what we need to do to play. I don’t care who is allowed in the gym just so long as we get to play. Sure, we want more fans and all that, but we want to play games and that’s my own worry right now. It’s going to come down to who’s more motivated to get the win and I think we have the right team to motivate ourselves and accomplish our goals.”

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