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The Cardinals get into ‘basketball shape’

Cromwell-Wright senior Samuel Kemper goes up for two points against the Bigfork Huskies during Tuesday night’s matchup in Cromwell. Kemper scored eight points in the 70-61 loss. Dan Saletel/

Cromwell-Wright boys basketball coach Bill Pocernich can see change just around the corner.

His team — like the school’s state semifinalist football team — is a mixture of mostly seniors and sophomores, who are finding their way on the hardwood after a very successful season on the gridiron.

Tuesday night’s 70-61 loss to Bigfork dropped the Cardinals to 2-6 on the young season but Pocernich sees better days ahead.

“We’re scoring more points,” he said. “We’ve had some difficulty getting shots to fall and getting players into basketball condition after football season.”

Against the Huskies, the Cardinals trailed only 30-26 at halftime but had difficulty dealing with Bigfork’s guards throughout the night. Carter Cook led the visitors with 21 points including five three-pointers, and Dalton Cook added 17 more. T.J. Heinle scored 14 for Bigfork.

“They (Bigfork) have two very good and very athletic guards and we had matchup issues with them,” Pocernich said. “But we’re improving every time out and there’s reason to believe things are going to get better.”

Cromwell-Wright’s rotation includes four seniors and three sophomores.

“In that regard it’s like football,” Pocernich said. “And three of the five seniors on the team were football linemen so there’s a transition period between playing football and playing basketball.”

Some coaches refer to it as “basketball shape.” Football players are shorter and very sharp, and the transition required from five to 10-second bursts to four to five-minute bursts can be daunting.

“The trouble we’ve had is in fine motor skills, but we’re adjusting,” Pocernich said. “We catch the ball better, we pass it better and we aren’t turning it over quite as much. The thing is, this is a great group of kids and they’re getting it.”

Senior Zion Smith had 15 points Tuesday to lead the Cardinals while Marcus Pocernich scored 12 and Cameron Cahoon 11 to give the Cardinals three players in double figures. However, the Cardinals shot only eight free throws in the contest, so getting to the line is a priority.

Cromwell-Wright has wins over Hill City and Cook County — both by more than 20 points — this season and that gives Pocernich hope for the future.

“The kids are coming along,” he said. “The fact of the matter is that we have players on this team who have had very successful careers here and they don’t like to lose in any sport. They are dedicated to getting the season going and I think we’ll get there. I think the Esko game (Jan. 13) will tell us a lot about where we’re at.”

Cromwell-Wright faces Silver Bay Friday, Jan. 6 and Floodwood Tuesday, Jan. 10 before visiting the Eskomos next Friday night, Jan 13.