Central Catholic photo
Deante’ Strickland will likely see lots of playing time for Central Catholic.
Central Catholic photo
Deante’ Strickland will likely see lots of playing time for Central Catholic.
The boys basketball team from Central Catholic were surprised in the quarterfinals last year, dropping 56-41 to West Linn. The top-ranked Rams went 22-6 overall under new coach Dan Munson, with a 9-1 record in league.

Entering his second season at the helm, Munson and the Rams look to build on the precedent that has been set and go farther at state.

“The kids know the expectations,” Munson said. “We’ve spent a summer together and we are definitely ready to get in and get after it. We graduated a lot, but still have a lot of talented returning players and others coming up (from the sub-varsity levels). It’s a process to get better all year long. Playing to our potential is our measuring stick, not the scoreboard.”

The Rams graduated last year’s leading scorer Danny Brakebush and point guard Lucas Hunter, along with solid contributors Julius Gakwasi and Reid Callan. Central Catholic, though, still returns both an inside and outside presence in senior post Austin Dyer and senior wing Mitch Franz.

With the potential to have four sophomores in the rotation, Munson is certainly looking for Dyer and Franz to provide leadership.

However, three sophomores –- Xavier Hallinan, Peter Myers and Deante’ Strickland — saw varsity minutes last season. In addition, senior Simon Noling and junior Ryan Nall also saw spot time last season. With that experience, Munson doesn’t expect that the leadership role has to fall squarely on the shoulders of just Dyer and Franz.

“We need people to step-up,” Munson said. “Austin and Mitch will be leaders in their own way. However, we try to build our program so everyone can step into a leadership role.”

Munson is looking for Franz to anchor a deep and talented backcourt, with the senior playing both the shooting and point guard spots. Strickland spotted Hunter last season off the bench, while Hallinan split time between the varsity and junior varsity levels. Junior transfer Aaron Washington, sophomores Zach Cross and Cole Stringer, and senior Nate Salu all will vie for minutes as well.

In the front court, Dyer, who signed a national letter of intent to play at Azusa Pacific, will be joined by returnees Noling and Nall.

Myers saw varsity minutes early last season. Senior Adam Canales and sophomore Blake Brandel also figure to battle for spots in the rotation.

While last year’s team started with offense, Munson looks for the Rams to dictate tempo with defense this winter. However, don’t expect the Rams to just be a half-court team.

“We will try to anchor on defense, to force the tempo with pressure, both full-court and half-court,” Munson said. “We will still look to attack on the offensive end, but we want to make smart decisions.”