By Jeremy Sharp
The Silver Lake boys basketball program is in a rebuilding phase, with a lot of new faces filling roles. Coach Paul Bade will lead the Mustangs in his first year as head coach. Along with Bade, Shaun Fisher and Allen Ehrman will also aid in guiding the young Mustang team this season. The team finished the 2021-2022 season with a 14-9 record. The Mustangs only have one returning senior to their roster in Cody Pankoke, who the team will look to for his leadership. Junior Keaton Karr is the sole returning starter to the roster this season, so the team is relying on some younger players to step up to fill those varsity roles.
Bade said, “In regards to returning players from last year, we only have one player with a good amount of varsity experience from last year, that being junior Keaton Karr. Keaton has been out since the third week of football and has been practicing at full intensity. With that being said, Cody Pankoke is our only senior and he has taken the role exactly that I had hoped for. Cody is a great leader for our team and is constantly adding value to our play on the court as well. We have a very young roster but with some depth and talent.”
The Mustangs hosted Friend in a jamboree game on Monday, December 28. Coach Bade said, “It was a great opportunity to compete against a great team. It gives us the benefit of evaluating what to do next. I thought they competed hard and this is exactly what we needed.”
The boys kick off their regular season with games in Red Cloud on Thursday, December 1, and in Deshler on Friday, December 2. Bade understands the strengths of his team and the potential that his young team exhibits. “Our biggest strength is our buy-in from players. As coaches, we have high expectations on how we practice and prepare, and the willingness to be coached and held accountable will allow them to reach levels of success they may not see for themselves right at this moment. As a team, this strength leads to opportunities.”
When looking ahead to the season, the Mustangs will take each game as an opportunity to compete. Coach Bade said, “Our mentality is we can’t assume any game is a win and also that any of those will be a loss. I truly believe we can beat every team we play; the process of our players believing so and our process and preparation in doing so will determine if that plays out to be true. There are several normally good teams in our conference again this year, with Shelton looking to be toward the top. But teams like Lawrence Nelson and Red Cloud are certainly teams that will see success this year as well. Being new to the school and TVC, it’s difficult to be able to predict or foresee what may take place this season, but in many ways, that is a great opportunity as often we limit our effort and commitment by what we see as happening. It really allows all of us, players and coaches, to focus on the process and growth from now to any point in the season. With that said, our mission is to compete in practice, compete in preparing, and compete in every game we play.”