Central boys facing challenge of replacing 9 seniors | News


If there ever was a rebuilding season for a high school basketball team, Rapid City Central epitomizes it.

The Cobblers are in ultra-retooling mode this season after losing nine players from last year’s roster to graduation and all five members of the starting five. Moreover, only two current players saw varsity time in 2020-21, one of whom is injured and out for the first couple months, and the other only entered games when their result had already been decided.

“Other than that, none of them stepped on the floor,” Central head coach TJ Hay said. 

What Hay does have this season is 12-13 aspiring players looking to fill the eight to nine spots left behind by the likes of Kohl Meisman, the Swallow brothers and Liam Porter, among others. He said it should make for competitive practices these first few weeks as athletes battle for roster spots and starting roles.  


Members of the Rapid City Central basketball team walk to huddle up Tuesday at Rapid City Central.

“They all know that there’s nobody coming back and there are minutes that are going to be open at the varsity level,” he said. “We’re going to have some sophomores, we’re going to have some juniors and some seniors competing for time.”

Senior guard Reno Lowe, who spent last season on the junior varsity squad but should make an impact on Central’s varsity team, said he and his fellow up-and-comers are looking forward to the challenge. 

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“There are all new spots all the way through (the lineup), but we’ve got a good team that’s coming up though. I think a solid team that should do well,” Lowe said. “We need leadership out of the seniors, and then just get hard work from everyone, freshmen all the way up. If everyone does their job, we should be fine this year.”

The Cobblers won’t have much time to get adjusted this season either once the regular season gets underway. They’ll open their 2021-22 campaign Dec. 10 against Aberdeen Central in a rematch of their SoDak 16 game last March where the Golden Eagles eked out a 57-52 win, then they’ll take on Pierre T.F. Riggs the next day before seeing rival Rapid City Stevens on Dec. 14.


Head coach TJ Hay speaks to members of the Rapid City Central basketball team Tuesday at Rapid City Central High School.

Hay said it’ll be important for his team to be physically ready to take on tough Class AA competition.

“It’s really hard for them not to look at that Stevens game right away, basically the first week we’re playing. But they’ve got to focus on (themselves) and getting in shape,” Hay said. “We’re going to be tested right away and we’ll see what they can do.”

Lowe also said physical fitness will be key, but added that camaraderie and getting into a rhythm with his teammates will play a factor.

“To start off, we’ve got to get in shape,” he said. “Get some team chemistry going and then just get focused up for Aberdeen and Pierre.” 


Members of the Rapid City Central basketball team practice Tuesday at Rapid City Central.

Hay said he’s planning on looking more to his post players under the basket to score points than in prior years, so doing the little things right will be crucial in their execution.

“We’re not nearly as talented athletically as we’ve been the last five years out on the perimeter, so we’ve got to be a little more exact in the things we’re doing,” he said. “I think we’re in a situation where nobody’s expecting much from us, but I think if they can play hard and they can defend and they can rebound, they’re going to compete in every game.”

Contact Matt Case at matt.case@rapidcityjournal.com

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