Dillon Higdon wants to focus on progress.
Coming off an uncharacteristic losing season, West Platte has plenty to figure out. The senior class of guards Luke Horseman, McKaulley Stephenson and Kaleb Baber and forwards Brett Shepardson and Daniel Cicha was responsible for about 95 percent of the Bluejays’ scoring during an 8-18 season.
West Platte won just two games in KCI Conference play, leaving a perennial power in a unique position.
“We will be much better in February then we are in November,” said Higdon, entering his third season with the Bluejays.
Horseman and Shepardson were the top two scorers last year for West Platte and earned All-KCI Conference honors. In addition, Cicha made an impact as a one-year player, developing into the best post presence for the Bluejays.
Cicha’s transition could provide a blueprint for how West Platte finds its identity this year.
Jonah Vandel, Quinn Johnson and Nick Miller will be the three seniors looking to make a bigger impact, while junior guard Shayne Kleinsorge, who sporadically contributed scoring last year, will be taking on a new role. Higdon also pointed to sophomore guard Noah Johnson as a new piece.
Grant Eagen, a junior guard, tore his ACL during football season and would have been the most experienced player on West Platte’s roster.
“We’re rebuilding, so I guess there’s no pressure,” Vandel said. “We’re going to have to play a lot of defense.”
With the KCI set to be a deep league again this year, West Platte’s challenges will be obvious.
The Bluejays made the playoffs in 2012, 2013 and 2014 and posted a 16-win season in Higdon’s first year at the helm. To reclaim a spot among the conference, district and state elite, the current group must work to improve while setting up a foundation for future success.
“We’ve just got to strive to be like (past championship teams), work hard every day,” Vandel said.