WAYNE – Several times the Wayne High boys basketball program has qualified for the state tournament on back-to-back seasons, WHS will be in search of a third straight trip in postseason play entering this season.
From the Wayne Jr/Sr High gymnasium, the Wayne High boys officially started their season Monday night with the late practice.
Rob Sweetland took over as the head coach in the 2013-14 season (9th year) and said this year’s team will continue to work on communicating.”
“I told them that’s something we have to get better at,” said Sweetland. “I thought it broke down at times in that last game at state last year. Out of bounds plays we weren’t communicating and some of the plays they ran and we lost our guys and led to easy baskets.”
The team conditioned last week for 45 minutes at a time working on footwork, jump stops, pivots, close outs, sprints and more.
Adam Hoffman and Wes Blecke will join coach Sweetland on staff.
Following a slow start, going 0-4 two years ago, Wayne High began last year with a 7-1 start leading up to Christmas break. WHS won the Mid State Conference Tournament, C1-7 Subdistrict and C1-8 District finals to close out the regular season at 22-5 entering the state tournament.
The Blue Devils knocked out #2 Kearney Catholic, 59-52 in the opening round before dropping a 52-40 semifinal game to runner-up #3 Adams Central. WHS then finished fourth place following a 60-46 loss to #4 Omaha Concordia in the C1 consolation game. Auburn was crowned C1 state champs for a third straight season. Wayne High finished the year with a 23-7 record.
Coach Sweetland added the team is a year older as the staff will be looking for more maturity and leadership from the returners.
“I think it’s important for our seniors to be vocal,” Sweetland added. “Not necessarily berrade or demean the younger kids. but to get them to understand it’s important; little things are important.”
This year’s team will be made up of 25 players.
Wayne High will open their 2021-22 campaign hosting Battle Creek on Friday, December 3 before visiting Ponca on Saturday, December 4. Game times for Friday will be JV games at 4:30 p.m. (boys at elementary), girls varsity at 6:15 p.m. and boys to follow while Saturday game times will be JV games at 4 p.m., varsity girls at 5:15 p.m. and boys varsity around 7 p.m.
“Last year I think we caught a few people by surprise,” Sweetland mentioned. “I don’t know if they were expecting a lot because the kids that we lost the previous year and didn’t have a lot of varsity experience last year. So, we’re not going to catch anyone by surprise this year.”
Big Red Country ‘KTCH’ 104.9 and waynedailynews.com will cover the Wayne at Ponca varsity doubleheader.