DAYTON — This season for the Tongue River High School boys basketball team will likely serve as a work in progress for all involved. The young Eagles are short on experience and also have a new head coach.
Tyler Hanson was the TR girls coach the past two seasons but moved to the boys team this year. The team is getting to know each other and building good habits by taking the season “day by day,” one of the team’s mottos.
“A lot of what we do is talking about what that actually means,” Hanson said. “It’s not just this cool thing that we say at the end of practice that sounds cool because you’ve got 16 guys saying it at the same time pretty loud. It’s not that. It’s, ‘Are we actually living what we’re saying?’”
Two starters return from last year’s group that finished 5-5 in conference play and ended two games short of a state berth. However, the Eagles lost All-Conference players Jay Keo to graduation and Jaren Fritz to transfer.
Hanson’s overall scheme is fairly similar to last year’s, but the players and coaches still need to acclimate to each others’ playing styles and personalities. Fortunately, Hanson has had all of the players in class — he teaches Spanish at TRHS — and coached nearly all of them in football, where he is an assistant coach.
The Eagles are using the nonconference slate to figure out the best lineups and adjustments to make on the fairly inexperienced team. Tongue River only has one senior, Jackson Clair, a transfer student this year.
“Some of the stuff we’ve been working on in practice — we’ve been working on it in live-game situations in practice but not against guys in different-colored jerseys,” Hanson said. “So it’s just seeing how all that stuff works out … We want to fine-tune stuff and get ready for conference.”
Hanson said the team goals are focused on small steps forward. Overall, he hopes the Eagles improve as the season goes along and make incremental progress every day.
“That’s what we’re building right now,” Hanson said. “Can today be a little bit better than yesterday? Is tomorrow going to be better than today was? And different aspects of the game. I know it sounds cliche, but that’s really what we preach all the time.”
With a young team and new coach, Tongue River will look to make progress and play its best when it matters most.
Head coach: Tyler Hanson
Last season’s record: 7-16
Last season’s conference record: 5-5
Key contributors: Nick Summers, Cade Reish, Jackson Clair
Jan. 11 at Wright
Jan. 12 vs. Big Horn
Jan. 18 vs. Greybull
Jan. 19 at Riverside
Jan. 25 vs. Rocky Mountain
Jan. 26 at Moorcroft
Jan. 31 at Big Horn
Feb. 1 vs. Sundance
Feb. 8 at Greybull
Feb. 9 vs. Riverside
Feb. 15 at Rocky Mountain
Feb. 16 vs. Shoshoni
Feb. 21-23 at Regionals (Riverton)
Feb. 28-March 2 (Casper)