(Sidney) -- The Sidney boys basketball team comes into the 2021-22 season in a prime position to be at the top of the Corner Conference again.
"We are really excited to get the season started," said Sidney Coach Kent Larsen. "We have a really experienced group, so they are really familiar with the stuff we are putting in."
Last year, the Cowboys went 11-9 and won the Corner Conference Tournament after going 7-3 in regular-season play in the conference. Larsen attributes the success to their efficient shooting, which came at a 40.6% clip, including 30.7% from three.
"We shot the ball well," he said. "And we just battled. It was tough. The conference was good last year. We had some great games and were fortunate to come out on top more often than not."
The Cowboys lost only one contributor from last year's team and returns one of the conference's top scorers -- Cole Jorgenson.
Jorgenson dropped 15.2 points per game with a 37.1% efficiency and buried 36.9% of his three-pointers while averaging 4.6 rebounds, 1.1 assists, 1.4 steals and 1.1 blocks. He shined last year, and Larsen expects much more from the senior this season.
"He's improved his game," he said. "He played a lot in the offseason. He's gotten more physical. We need to get him to the free-throw line more, which could add to his game."
Garett Phillips (11.2 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 2.7 APG, 1.7 SPG), Connor Behrends (6.7 PPG, 7.3 RPG) and Matthew Benedict (3.6 PGG, 3.9 APG, 3.6 RPG) return to the lineup, while Kyle Beam should see an increased role after dropping 5.5 points per game and shooting 42% in a reserve role last year.
The Cowboys have no shortage of shooters. However, Larsen says their lack of size might create some issues.
"We're not very tall," he said. "Rebounding has to be a team effort. We don't have one guy that's going to do everything for us. We are going to be pretty good offensively, but I don't know how good we are going to be defensively. We are going to have to out-shoot people and play enough defense to scratch out wins."
Sidney is the defending Corner Conference Tournament champion and would love to defend that crown. However, Fremont-Mills, Stanton and East Mills also return many contributors and will likely have a say.
"There should be some shootouts," Larsen said. "Ten of the top 16 players are back, so the Corner Conference should have some good basketball this year."
The Cowboys get a stern two-day swing to open the season when they face Johnson-Brock and Stanton on back-to-back nights on December 2nd and 3rd.
"I just want us to compete," Larsen said. "That's what we want to do every night. We'll compete as hard as we can and see what happens. On paper, those are 50/50 games. Hopefully, we can come out and get some momentum going right off the bat."
Check out the full interview with Coach Larsen below.