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The Student News Site of Gretna East High School

The Wingspan

The Student News Site of Gretna East High School

The Wingspan

Griffins launch basketball season with fresh faces to varsity competition

Varsity team heads into Friday’s game 1-1

Going into any season, goals are set to strive for and to help guide a team. For first-year teams, the inaugural season is unexpected and unknown. However, the varsity boys’ basketball team has set their expectations high and are looking to make an impact as a first-year team.
“We just want to compete every time we take the floor,” head coach Cooper Anthony said. “Every time we take the floor we want to give ourselves a chance to win the basketball game. We don’t ever want to roll it out there and step on the floor without the mindset that we can. We want to play a really hard, relentless 32 minutes of basketball.”
The Griffins enter the season playing in the top conference. Although they will compete in Class B during the postseason, for the regular season, they are scheduled to play in the Metro Conference and will play against top-ranked teams such as Omaha Bryan, Creighton Prep and Elkhorn South.
“We’re going to play against athletes; big, long, physical athletes,” Anthony said. “So for us, a lot of that comes down to one: just selling out and playing with tremendous effort. Then from a coaching perspective, we’re going to be creative with how we guard.”
Alongside the stiff competition, every player on the team is new to varsity. Prior to this year, none of them had played a minute at the varsity level. Last year, the varsity Gretna High boys team was full of talent, so development by getting playing time and working with future teammates had to take place at the junior varsity and reserve levels. However, alongside Anthony, assistant coaches Max Sealer and Tyler Spitser were at GHS, and they worked with and taught most of the Griffin players in these lower levels, helping to kickstart the Gretna East program before it even began.
“Having Coach Sealer and Coach Anthony, their personalities were always the same,” junior guard Talan Hovie said. “Now they’re able to voice their opinions more on how they think that we should run practice, or how they think we should do more offensive or defensive sets. I get to hear more of their opinion or insight.”
In addition to this, during the offseason, the team found many ways to play and get experience. In the spring, the players met for open runs a few days a week. The summer picked up gradually with more workouts and all of the boys, from the freshman team to the varsity, played in a summer league together against other Omaha area teams. The fall closed the final stretch with the fall league and more practices to condition the team and prepare. They finished off the offseason with a jamboree against Platteview High School on Nov. 21. As the first taste of competition for the team, nerves were high, and it was used as a learning experience. Even though there was no winner or loser, lessons were still taken away from the scrimmage.
“We weren’t the best defensively ‘til the second quarter,” junior forward Cole Edwards said. “Offensively, I think we were pretty fine, and we played fine throughout the game.”
The first official game of the season against Omaha Benson on Nov. 30, was a close one with the Griffins falling 50-48. Throughout the game, nerves ran high leading them to be down at the half, 26-21. They put together a promising third quarter going into the final quarter down 35-34. They kept it close and were only down two with six seconds left. They got the ball back on offense but weren’t able to close it out.
While they started the season with a loss, they bounced back just two days later against Omaha Northwest and redeemed themselves, winning 61-58. The boys controlled the pace and played their type of game by taking the simple shots and limiting turnovers, aiding them when they needed it in the final minutes. Seeing these first challenges, Anthony knows what his athletes are going to have to get used to and the problems that lie ahead.
“There’s gonna be bumps along the way and we tell them, we’re gonna face adversity,” Anthony said. “How well we do this year all depends on how well we can handle adversity. Can you [the players] handle getting knocked down and having four dudes pick you up and just keep moving forward?”
The boys will prove that on Friday during their home opener against Omaha North at 7:15 p.m.

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About the Contributors
Brody Heidemann, Sports Editor
Brody Heidemann is a junior at Gretna East and this will be his second year on an online journalism staff. He was on the Gretna Media staff at Gretna High last year. This year he is the GEHS Wingspan's Sports Editor. As a sophomore, Brody won third place in Yearbook Sports Feature Writing and also fifth in Sports News Writing at the NSAA High School State Journalism championships for Class-A. Brody enjoys participating in journalism because he is interested in learning about other people and likes being social. His goal for this year is to stay productive and keep stories coming out. Outside of school, he enjoys playing video games, working at Hy-vee and hanging out with friends. 
Peyton Parker, Reporter
This is the first year junior Peyton Parker has been on a journalism staff. With an interest in photography and sports writing, it was fate for Peyton to become a reporter for Gretna East Media and The Wingspan. Aside from taking photos and writing stories, he enjoys baseball and playing Fortnite in his free time. His main goals in the program are to win State Awards for his hard work and work with others to build up the Wingspan. This year, Peyton looks forward to writing invigorating sports features, whimsical entertainment reviews, thought-provoking opinion pieces and everything in between. 
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