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November 25, 2013

BOYS BASKETBALL: Eastern preview

Eastern has new coach and just one returning letterwinner.

GREENTOWN — Eastern boys basketball is getting a fresh start, albeit with a familiar face.

And with one returning letterwinner, new coach Mike Springer has been able to step in and implement the ground work for his program in what’s been seamless transition.

“The positives are that I’ve known most of the kids since they were in junior high, being a teacher there for the last 10 years,” said Springer, who coached Eastern’s girls program for five seasons (2003-08). “Even though most of these kids played [JV] last year, I think they are ready to step up to the varsity level. We’re going to be really young, but we have a pretty balanced team.

“Our kids are hungry,” Springer added. “They’ve come to practice every day with positive attitudes and have really worked hard. I’ve been pleased with our progress on both ends of the floor. We have a long way to go, but like I said, I think the kids are hungry. They’re working pretty well together.”

Senior Braden Gibson is the lone returner with significant varsity experience. The 5-foot-9 guard averaged 10.3 points per game a year ago, but will look be more of a ball-handler and distributor for the otherwise fledgling Comets. Gibson is the team’s only senior, as well, after graduating six seniors from last season’s 3-18 squad.

“He’s done a good job of communicating with the kids and really trying to lead them,” Springer said. “Braden is a really good 3-point shooter, but he’s been passing the ball well and hitting the open man.”

Junior guards Blake Shrader (5-8) and Noah Cope (5-11) and sophomore forwards Jacob Kinder (6-2) and Braden Evans (6-2) likely will round out the starting five. Shrader, Cope and Evans each saw varsity action in 19 games a season ago, while Kinder is a move-in from Christian Heritage Academy.

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