LEXINGTON — The Lexington Minutemen took a giant step forward last year, reaching the Class B district finals.
This year, they return three double-figure scorers from that 15-10 team with the hope of taking that next step to the state tournament.
“We will be a senior-led team that is looking to take our program to a new level,” said third-year head coach Zach Jones.
Six-foot-1 guard Nick Saiz tops the list of returning starters. He averaged 16 points per game last year.
Five-foot-10 guard Dylan Richman averaged 12 points per game and dished out a total of 103 assists.
Six-foot-2 guard-forward Kaleb Carpenter also is back after averaging 10 points and six rebounds per game last season.
Other lettermen are 6-0 guard Christian Dominguez, 6-2 guard/forward Dau Mach, 6-3 forward Eli Young, 6-4 forward Austin Friedrichsen and 6-4 forward Austyn Stewart.
“We will have more length this year than any time in the recent past,” Jones said. “The success of our team will depend on the buy-in we have at the defensive end of the floor.”
Jones has the advantage of having an experienced coaching staff. Assistants Darren Hanson, Eric Young and Jerry Buck are all former head coaches.
Lexington opens the season Thursday at Gothenburg.
The Lexington girls return four starters and five other letterwinners from last year’s 7-19 team that pulled off some late-season upsets.
“I feel like we’re poised for a double-digit win season,” Lexington coach Robb Koerting said. “Madison Sutton is hard to defend inside and our plan is to surround her with confident guard play.”
Sutton, a 6-foot senior, is a three-year starter. She averaged seven points and five rebounds per game last year.
Sarah Treffer, a 5-6 sophomore guard, and Cordelia Harbison, a 5-9 sophomore guard, return after starting every game their freshmen season.
Klair Fagot, a 5-9 junior, is a two-year starter and Lexington’s top defender.
Beside the other letterwinners, the Minutemaids have more quality coming in.
“I like the group of freshmen we’re adding to the program and feel we have more depth than in seasons past,” Koerting said.
A good mix of veterans and newcomers have taken aim at a top ten finish at the state tournament this year. Last year’s squad nearly accomplished that feat, finishing 11th with 65 points. Three more points would have put Lexington in eighth place.
The Minutemen return five senior starters including Brady Fago, who placed sixth in the state last year at 132 points. Fago finished with a 36-9 record last year. Ean Bailey won 34 matches and was 2-2 at state in the 120-pound bracket.
Other returning senior are Anthony Rodriguez, Dakota Haines and Eferen Aguirre.
Ivan Laza, a state qualifier at 106 pounds with 33 victories last year as a sophomore, tops the list of other returning starters that includes junior Dylan Hubbard, junior Rene Corado and sophomore James Hernandez.
Lexington has dialed up a rugged schedule, competing in invitationals at Colby, Kan., and Greeley, Colo., as well as several top in-state meets. The Minutemen will host the Central Conference meet that includes five of last year’s top 11 teams, including defending state champion Grand Island Northwest.