After enduring a difficult season, Platte County needs to completely rebuild its frontcourt.
Grant Carver, a senior, did not return after developing into the Pirates’ leading scorer a year ago. The 6-foot-4 big man became a mainstay in the starting lineup and a focal point of the offense late in a season that included more losses than victories.
The learning curve ended up steep for Platte County coming off of an appearance in the Class 4 District 16 title game in 2015. The Pirates opened the season with a win in the Savannah Tournament but didn’t win again until mid-January in the seventh-place game of Kearney’s Bulldog Classic.
Carver and departed forward Nick Kunels ended up the only All-Suburban Conference Blue Division honorees for Platte County, which ended the season 5-20 and 3-7 in league play. The Pirates closed the regular season with back-to-back wins — the only time they won two straight all year.
Without Carver, junior Kobe Cummings could be a set for a huge bump in playing time and stats after filling the role of substitute spark plug as a sophomore. J.D. Crawford and Tanner Newberry — seniors who played guard a year ago — also inherited bigger roles as the 2015-2016 campaign wore on and could be potential impact players for veteran coach Rick Hodge this season.
Platte County also lost six seniors, but only Jerod Thomas and Kodee Martin were multiple-year contributors. Kunels, Tyler Clemens, Jack Doole and Isaiah Ewing all jumped to varsity after playing behind the loaded senior class which nearly led a surprise playoff push in 2015.
Carver, Kunels and Doole formed the strength of the lineup in the frontcourt.
In addition to the inexperience, Clemens and Newberry missed the start of the season with injuries during a lengthy losing streak that reached 10 games. Platte County again opens the season in the Savannah Tournament but did move out of Basehor-Linwood (Kan.)’s Bobcat Classic in January and will now play in the Grain Valley Tournament.