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Experienced core gives Highland high expectations for boys’ basketball season

Highland junior forward Sam LaPorta throws down a two-handed dunk to finish the first half of the Bulldogs’ 57-52 victory over the Columbia Eagles last season at the Highland Optimist Basketball Shootout.
Highland junior forward Sam LaPorta throws down a two-handed dunk to finish the first half of the Bulldogs’ 57-52 victory over the Columbia Eagles last season at the Highland Optimist Basketball Shootout. For the News Leader

Experience and depth will be in abundance for third-year coach Brian Perkes Highland basketball team this winter and the Bulldogs plan to make the most of both..

Senior forward Sam LaPorta, senior point guard Brady Feldmann, senior post Steve Torre, and senior forward/guard Jake Kruse are back to give the Bulldogs an experienced starting core.

“Those are our four starters that are back and it’s huge (to have them back),” Perkes said. “This is the third year for them starting varsity basketball and everything should be a little bit easier and they should be well acclimated to how we want to play so I think the transition from last year to this year should be a lot smoother for these guys.”

“We’re looking for a really nice season from these guys,” Perkes said.

Junior guard Jack Etter, who along with Feldmann, and LaPorta recently took the Bulldogs football team to the Class 5A football quarterfinals, will challenge for the fifth starting spot or be the first player off the bench for Highland this winter.

“Jack was a player that didn’t play the previous year and he decided to come back out last year and really helped us of the bench,” Perkes said. Jack’s got a chance to be that fifth starter and Jack’s going to help us.”

The offense will flow for the Bulldogs through LaPorta, Feldmann, and Torre. LaPorta led the team in scoring last season at 11.2 point per game. Feldmann averaged 9 points a game as a junior and Torre averaged 7.1 points per game.

The Bulldogs also are expecting good things from their reserves as well. Senior Jacob Willis will look to help out off the bench.

“Jacob didn’t play last year but he was with us this past summer and I thought he had a really nice summer,” Perkes said. “Jacob’s certainly going to add some depth.”

Seniors Griffin Fromme, footballer Dylan Aptken, sophomore Christian Kassey, and junior guard Brylee Portell are going to be counted on to add additional depth for the Bulldogs.

“Griffin Fromme has been with us for about a week and a half and he brings some athleticism and Dylan Aptken is a good athlete, so we’re looking for those guys to help us off the bench a little bit,” Perkes said.

Perkes said the key to early success for the team will be how fast the football players are able to transition into basketball shape.

“I think the big thing for us to be successful early will be how quickly our football guys transition back into basketball, so we’re giving as much time as they need to heal and refresh and reset their buttons in order to play,” Perkes said.

The Bulldogs are looking for more success this year after going 21-9 last season.

“We have high expectations and we’re trying to win every game we play and naturally the (MVC) conference championship is important to us. We want to do well in all the tournaments that we’re in,” Perkes said. “The most important part of the season is the postseason and we really would like to make a little noise in the postseason.”

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