Surrounded by talent, Warriors have impressed coach
Rarely are coaches blessed with the kind of athletic talent in their first year at the school that Todd Dixon has at Central High School.
The Warriors are coming off a 19-5 season, lost two seniors and return a group of solid basketball players, including two-time All-Southwestern League junior Amy Kame.
“I am insanely impressed with the amount of athletic talent we have here,” Dixon said. “There is a lot of basketball we have to learn so we are trying to make that evolution from athletes into athletes who play basketball.”
Dixon’s system is one that is more up-tempo than what Central has been running in the past. Dixon said he expects a few bumps early in the season as the Warriors adjust to playing at a high tempo and still minimizing turnovers.
“It will be a fast pace style,” Dixon said. “You will see a lot of pressure from us but we will be intelligent enough that we can go into something else if we need to. Basically I want to be a well-rounded team that plays fast.”
It’s a style that might be overdue for a Central team that hasn’t been known for having an excess of tall players.
Kame, along with 5-foot-10 Haleigh Higgins and 5-10 Maddy Vana, will be the Warriors’ main presence in the post. Central does have to replace Alaina Brennan, who is now playing at Mesa State College, but Dixon said a combination of Stacey Kinnett, Ashley Paul, Taylor Else and Mikayla Duffy will handle the backcourt duties when the team opens its season Dec. 2 at Rifle.
“I think we are going to be 10 deep with not a whole lot of letdown from 1 to 10,” Dixon said.
Kame filled in the blanks about herself and the rest of the Central Warriors.
Determined best describes me as a player.
“I am really looking forward to this year and we have very high expectations and I am determined to go out there and work hard.”
Versatility is my best asset on the court.
“I would say that because of my ability to play inside and outside and do a bunch of different things with the ball.”
Shooting every day is how I trained in the offseason.
“I have been shooting and playing as much as I can. I had been working on improving my outside shooting and ball-handling.”
My team is my favorite part of the game.
“My favorite part is coming out here and working together.”
Running is the most important asset of this team.
“We run a lot, so that is what we are going to be doing to teams all year. We are all pretty quick players so we can get up and down the court.”
All of them is how many games I expect Central to win.
“That is our goal. (Coach Dixon) pushes us really hard and it has all been really positive and we are working a lot harder than we did last year.”
After a .500 season last year, Central has high hopes for this season.
Although the Warriors didn’t make the playoffs, their 11-11 finish and 5-5 in the SWL was a vast improvement for a Central program that has struggled the past few years.
“We are building on what we did last year,” Central coach Phil Cain said. “The veterans we have are returning with enthusiasm and we are excited.”
Central has a lot to be excited about after losing only one senior off last year’s team, so not only does this year’s group have nine seniors, but nine seniors who can play, beginning with returning all-league selections Clay Kame and Sean Citlau.
“We are much more advanced than we were at this time last year,” Cain said. “Plus, we are not one or two deep, everyone has a
chance to contribute when they come into the game.”
Travis Key and Kahler Grandbouche will be two prominent post players for the Warriors and Vandon Sanchez, Blaine Jackson, Michael Wiedrich and Griffin Woolsey all look to contribute. Central opens the season Dec. 3 against Horizon in the Warrior Challenge.
“We have a tougher preseason as we play nine Denver schools before league,” Cain said. “We want to improve and do what we need to get above a .500 mark.”
Citlau filled in the blanks about himself and the rest of the Central Warriors.
Defense best describes me as a player.
“I have been trying to work as hard as I can to get my defense back up.”
Vision is my best asset on the court.
“I like to score, everyone does, but I like passing at the same time.”
Hard is how I trained in the offseason.
“I am always trying to get ready for the next season.”
Playing is my favorite part of the game.
“It is so much fun and when you have a group of guys that like to play it makes it more fun.”
Size is the most important asset of this team.
“Not so much that we are bigger but we will get up faster and quicker than other teams do.”
Above .500 is how many games I expect Central to win this year.
“We haven’t had (a winning season) in a long time so I want us to get better and make the playoffs.”