Rising basketball stars show promise for the future

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Rising basketball stars show promise for the future

Drew Hanson, Co-editor

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At a Southeast of Saline women’s basketball game, you see Keely Orr overpower her opponents in the post, and later in the evening, you see Bryant Banks slash to the basket and Seth Eklund drain 3’s. 

With upperclassmen dominating the starting lineups on both the girls’ and boys’ sides, one may think that the teams are reliant solely on experience.  However, a couple of newcomers have stepped into the spotlight. 

The first of those is freshman Avery Caselman. She’s coming off the bench in a lineup that has a record of 5-4 but has lost close games to Beloit and Smoky Valley. 

She has a lot of experience, playing in junior high and for an MAYB team in the summers; but she said the high school style of play is much different. 

“Over the summer, the refs didn’t call very many fouls, so you could play very physical. But for school basketball they call lots and lots of fouls, so you have to figure out how to play physical without fouling,” Caselman said. 

With high-level play comes pressure.  

“I feel lots of pressure when coming into the varsity game. I don’t want to make stupid mistakes, and making my shots is key when I go in,” she said. 

Although Caselman feels the pressure, her play doesn’t seem to be affected. She’s a versatile player that can fill in for multiple positions and can score, pass, and rebound. However, she says she has much to work on.

“Some personal goals are to have more courage to shoot, be more physical and aggressive, and work on my ball-handling and court awareness,” she said. 

She is also optimistic about the future. 

“I think that in the years to come, the girls’ team will keep getting better. Playing with the eighth-graders last year, we went undefeated. I think that if we all find our clique and work together, we’ll be a force to be reckoned with,” she said. Another rising star is freshman Eli Sawyers. Sawyers, a 6’4 post, is currently averaging 12 points a contest, tied for first on the team with junior Bryant Banks. 

Sawyers is currently the team’s sixth man and doesn’t have an issue with coming off the bench. 

“I have had to work hard to earn my spot. There are a lot of players better than me, and I’m lucky to be playing with them,” he said. 

Although Sawyers has a height advantage, he notes that his game still lacks strength. 

“I think my role is to get bigger and tougher as the season goes on,” he said. “I’m not so great at post defense because I’m not as strong as people like Bryant Banks and Eli Harris.”

Banks and Harris both are efficient starters, and Sawyers says he looks up to them, as well as the NBA superstar Kevin Durant. 

“I think Eli, Bryant, and Jaxson have been most helpful to me this season, and for other players, I would love to model my game after Kevin Durant,” he said.

Like Caselman, Sawyers is also optimistic about the future of SES basketball. 

“I feel many of us are improving as players, and it will be hard to beat us if we can fine-tune everything offensively and defensively,” he said. 

As far as personal goals and expectations, he sets the bar high.

“I want to improve my vertical and my three-point shooting. I want to play in college, but I will likely not be tall enough to be a true post,” he said. 

Finally, the last addition to the team is transfer student Camden Spano-Lund. Spano-Lund, a former player for Lawrence Free State, is a highly skilled guard. He has made an immediate impact, averaging 11.3 points per game and nailing four threes in a game against Russell. He is also a skilled playmaker with excellent court vision. In addition to offense, Cam is also a defensive juggernaut, averaging 1.3 steals, the highest on the team. As the season progresses and Lund’s minutes increase, it will be interesting to see how much the team benefits from his play. 

With the past few rebuilding seasons for SES basketball, these rising stars are already important pieces to the puzzle for this seasons teams; and as they grow and develop, the future looks bright in the years to come.