Hays High boys have plenty of experience for 2012-13

By KLINT SPILLER

kspiller@dailynews.net

A team full of first-time starters typically doesn't bode well in most sports, and it certainly didn't last season for the Hays High School boys' basketball team.

The Indians finished 6-15, but head coach Rick Keltner hopes that experience will bear fruit for this season since no one graduated from last year's squad.

"We just want to try and earn a little respect and play at the level we want to play here," Keltner said.

Hays High will get its first opportunity at 8:15 p.m. Thursday against Colby in the first round of the 30th annual Hays City Shoot-Out at the Hays High Gym.

The Indians' top returnee is senior guard/forward Derek Bixenman, who led the team in scoring with 10.6 points per game and posted 3.1 assists -- a team high -- and 1.3 steals per game.

"He's a great kid, great leader," Keltner said.

Other top returnees include junior guard Jordan Windholz (7.8 points, 2.5 assists and 1.4 steals), 6-foot-6 sophomore center Brady Werth (6.7 points, 4.7 rebounds and 2.3 blocks), junior guard Lane Clark (4.2 points, 2.3 assists and 1.2 steals) and junior forward Kade Parker (4.8 points and 3.9 rebounds).

"Last year, we got experience, and experience is usually a good teacher," Keltner said.

Hays High actually will have additional depth this season with the return of senior forward Adam Deterding. He played as a sophomore but didn't go out last season.

On the back of Hays High's team T-shirts, it reads "Tougher, Faster, Stronger." That's certainly true this year. The Indians are stacked athletically.

Bixenman and Deterding were the top two high jumpers in Class 5A last season. Deterding also was a state champion hurdler and an all-state triple jumper.

"Adam Deterding, just by his athleticism, is going to get us rebounds that we wouldn't have gotten last year," Keltner said.

Windholz was one of 5A's top long jumpers and triple jumpers last season, and the rest of the lineup is filled with football, baseball and soccer players.

Keltner said he hopes to use his team's athleticism and competitiveness to its advantage.

"I just want us to attack," he said. "I hope we are the aggressor every night. We've got to be smart with it, but we want to make people play."

Keltner said he expects junior Kyler Niernberger to start at point guard, Clark to start at shooting guard, Bixenman to start at small forward, Deterding to start at power forward and Werth to start at center, with Windholz and Parker, who each started last season, coming off the bench to provide a spark.

"When they come in, things happen," Keltner said. "It's not like we are going to drop when we sub."

With the Indians' size and speed, Keltner, who usually ran a strict man-to-man defense with past teams, said he plans to deploy a zone press with a combination man-zone defense this year.

"We are going to try to extend our defense and give people different looks," Keltner said.

On offense, Keltner said this year's team must learn to take better care of the ball.

Last season, the Indians posted a negative assist-to-turnover ratio, committing an average of 16.0 turnovers to 12.2 assists per game.

"Our turnover-to-assist ratio was horrendous," he said.

Keltner said he wants his team to take advantage of its size inside more.

Last season, the Indians relied on perimeter shooting, taking 430 3-pointers compared to their opponents' 222, and the Indians weren't especially effective at it, making just 28.6 percent of their long-range shots.

"To be a really good team, you have to have some balance," Keltner said.