Freshmen dominate court
By Abby Brockmann
(Monday, Dec. 21, 2015)
The freshmen boys came out with a bang this season as Dillon Byrne, Mason Griffin, and Wyatt Heiman all suited up varsity at the first game against Council Grove on Tuesday, Dec. 8.
Head Coach Linndy Frieden shared the qualities that made these freshmen varsity material.
“I watched them this summer and evaluated them the first week of the season. We are going to suit up our best kids no matter what grade they’re in. I was not expecting three of them to be on varsity, but that’s how it turned out.
“They are coachable and do not think they have all the answers. All three of these guys have played a lot of basketball during the off-season, which is how you get better. One big key will be… do they want to get better and not to be satisfied,” Frieden explained.
Frieden shared what kinds of skills Byrne, Griffin, and Heiman will bring to the team.
“They are long, athletic, and good shooters who can get to the basket,” he shared.
This varsity squad is much different than previous years.
“This is the youngest team I have coached in 25 years. I cannot find the last time at Silver Lake that three freshmen suited up for varsity. On paper, this might be the best shooting team I have coached at Silver Lake,” Frieden said.
Along with the freshmen, there are also sophomores who get to suit up and play varsity. These fellow underclassmen include Cale Adams, Keenan Baird, Will Boyd, and Brady Snook.
Other varsity members include Juniors Dean Honas, Tyler Koelzer, and Ryan Wagner and Seniors Cole Baird, Blake Hallacy, and Blake Matzke.
C. Baird is out with a football injury and recent shoulder surgery, but he still attends all of the practices and games to assist the team.
Griffin started playing basketball when he was 5 on a YMCA team with other fellow Silver Lake kids. He is a guard for the varsity squad.
Griffin explained the toughest part about playing varsity.
“Keeping up with the faster, stronger kids. I have to compensate for my weaknesses,” he explained.
As of now, shooting accuracy does not seem to be a weakness for Griffin as he was the highest scorer in the first game against Council Grove with 18 points, including six two’s and two three’s.
Against Riley County, Griffin was yet again the leading scorer with 26 points.
He followed up as the leading scorer at Burlington, scoring 16 points.
Along with Griffin, at the Council Grove game Byrne and Heiman scored three points each, including one three-point shot for Byrne and one two-point shot and one free throw for Heiman.
Byrne is both a guard and a post and has been playing since he was in first-grade. He explained his reaction when he found out he would be playing varsity.
“I was nervous because I didn’t know how it was going to work out being a freshman trying to work with the upperclassmen. When I went into the gym I had only really talked to two or three guys, so the first day I was nervous. But I have become more familiar with them and now they are just like family, and I wouldn’t want to play with anyone else,” Byrne shared
Heiman is a guard and started playing when he was 8 years old for the Marysville Rockets. He started shooting in a gym on Sundays with his dad when he was in kindergarten.
Heiman explained his reaction when he found out he would be suiting up for varsity.
“I was a little bit surprised but I was excited for the opportunity to play on the big level,” Hemain said.
Heiman described the kind of pressure playing varsity adds.
“The pressure is that you’re going against upperclassmen that are more experienced and you play in front of a lot of fans,” Heiman said.
On the other hand, Byrne feels the pressure of making mistakes.
“I feel like if I make a mistake it is more noticeable because I am a freshman. Most times I am on the court with guys I’ve never played with before so that also adds pressure because I don’t exactly know what they are going to do,” Byrne explained.
Byrne and Heiman shared the upperclassman they look up to most on the varsity squad.
“Blake Matzke because he is so motivational and willing to help if you have questions. He is a great leader and is always excited and never gives up. Even though I am younger than him, he treats me like an upperclassman which helps at practice because I don’t feel as nervous because I know he will help me,” Byrne shared.
“Blake Hallacy. He has given me pointers and helped me. He is also a good leader,” Heiman shared.
Griffin agreed with Byrne and Heiman about Hallacy and Matzke being motivational leaders.
“Both Blakes, being seniors, have done a good job stepping into a leadership role and encourage me to shoot and praise me when I do well,” he commented.
Griffin explained how he trained to be able to make the varsity squad.
“I have been playing basketball year round for the past three years in all different states. I have gone to my trainer, Darryl Winston, once or twice a week since seventh-grade. This past summer I would have a practice or training every day of the week,” he explained.
According to Griffin, high school basketball will not be much different than where he has played in the past.
“As far as competition, it will be similar. I am used to playing all the best kids from all around. One major difference is there will be very few kids my age,” he shared.
Griffin described his favorite part about playing varsity.
“I know that I am being pushed every day to better myself, and that is a good feeling,” he said.
The team still has a ways to go for the season, and Frieden explained how they are shaping up.
“I am going to have to be patient, but I know we will be better in February than we are right now. I like our attitude and effort, but we have to remember the key is to keep getting better each day. With as many young kids as we have on varsity, they are going to have to adjust to the speed of the game.
“Playing on a Tuesday night or at 5:00 is different than playing at 8:00 on a Friday night. The quicker they adjust to the varsity level, the better we will be. This group makes it fun to go to practice, but I know there will be peaks and valleys throughout the year,” Frieden shared.