Maranatha Christian Academy boys, girls seek sub-state success
Maranatha Christian Academy’s boys basketball team must replace a wealth of experience from last season’s third-place Crossroads Conference team.
Five new players will be in the starting lineup, and head basketball coach Tavis Hackathorn expressed apprehension about the upcoming season a few days before practice started.
“Going into it, I’m not really sure what to expect,” he said. “We’ll see after our first game.”
During the next couple of weeks, Hackathorn said, he’ll be focusing on fundamentals and establishing a routine with his new crop of players.
Hackathorn said he likes to place a lot of offensive pressure on his opponents in order to get some easy points.
Senior guard Luke Holland aims to lead the squad after being the sixth man on last year’s Eagles team.
“We have some other seniors but they didn’t play a ton of varsity last year,” Hackathorn said.
Senior guards Shawn Manning and Steven Swank will start, with junior forward Endurance Crosby and sophomore guard Mikey Brown in the rotation as well. At 6-foot-9, Olathe Northwest transfer Luke Thomas will fill in as the fifth man for the Eagles.
“I think that he just adds something to the middle that we didn’t have,” Hackathorn said.
Outside of Thomas, the Eagles’ entire team is 6-foot-1 or smaller.
“We are small, but the kids are very fast and are very good about attacking the basket, and Thomas will help,” he said.
Girls eye deeper postseason run
With a large contingent of returning players, Maranatha girls basketball coach (and first-year superintendent) Mark Schultze’s program is looking to bounce back after going 7-12 last season.
Schultze has been building the program since he took it over five seasons ago.
“In the first year, we won three games,” he said. “We really struggled building (the program) back up. But we got some girls who have really caught the fire.”
Three seniors — Mollie Chapin-Patch, Brooke Buckner and Haley McConnell — who all started as juniors and are now captains this year, are occupying the point guard, post and wing positions, respectively.
Joining the starters are junior Bailey Kroening and sophomore Katherine Smith, who secured a position on the post last year but will shift to wing this season.
Sophomore forward Rylee Schultze, who suffered an ACL injury last year, is expected to step in alongside 6-foot-1 sophomore Devyn Moore.
After running out of steam at the end of some games last year, the team asked for more work on conditioning and strength.
“The girls have asked for it, and I think it will change our output throughout the season and especially in the post season,” Schultze said. “I have a team that showed their mettle by asking for more conditioning.”
Both teams are gearing up for their home opener Nov. 30 against Lone Jack High School.
Most coaches like to say that they are going to go all the way, but Schultze said realistically he just wants to get deeper into the postseason.
“We haven’t won a game in the postseason, and that’s why we have an opportunity to build on this momentum for this program,” he said. “We’re digging out of a hole that was pretty deep, and we’re trying to build some excitement for girls basketball.”