Berthoud basketball sets sights on conference title

By Dan Karpiel

The Surveyor

Every extra piece of practice and preparation a team can get, the better, and those most resembling a real game are the best.

Tuesday night the Berthoud High School (BHS) boys basketball team made the short trek up to Loveland to take on the 5A Indians in a foundation game, a contest that is structured and operated identically to a regular season game but one that does not count in the standings.

Berthoud battled Loveland for 32 minutes, but a late charge by the Indians saw the hosts take the contest by a 63-57 final. Berthoud seniors Curtis Peacock and Jake Lozinski turned in especially strong performances, each scoring over 20 points apiece, but, most importantly from the perspective of head coach, Mike Burkett, the team learned a lot playing in live-game action.

“We’re better because we did this, it’s why we scheduled it, so we could see where some of our deficiencies are,” Burkett said after the game. “We learned that we’re not as tough mentally as we need to be yet. Our communication is lacking on the defensive end, we’re not in the position we’re supposed to be, and we still get distracted a little bit by things that are out of our control.”

Now entering his fourth season as head coach, Burkett believes he has the foundation and culture in place, not to mention a crop of talent he calls, “the deepest group I’ve had here,” for Berthoud to make the step into the contender’s discussion in the Tri-Valley Conference (TVC).

“None of our goals have changed, we still think we can compete for the Tri-Valley, we can win our Spartan Classic coming up, we can make a good showing in the Longmont tournament, and I fully expect us to play for the championship there that Saturday,” Burkett said.

In addition to Lozinski and Peacock, the latter a 2017-18 All-Conference selectee who Burkett calls, “one of the best guards in Northern Colorado,” the Spartans return a core of players with substantial varsity experience who look to build on the strong second half of last season. Seniors Ben Burkett and Cameron Poll, who contributed the 41 and 39 three-pointers made last season, respectively, return as members of the starting lineup. Juniors Aaron Hardy, whose play Burkett praised after Tuesday’s contest, and Cooper Stratmeyer provide good rotational depth and will see plenty of action. Berthoud will also rely on the services of six-foot-seven senior Rowan Carr, the tallest player to don a Spartan jersey in nearly a decade.

With a core of talented and experienced players in place and the scheme and philosophy well-suited to maximize their abilities, Burkett said the focus will be cleaning up the small things and continuing to build mental toughness. “If we’re going to be successful this year, what’s going to have to happen is we’re going to have to finish our assignments, we have to execute,” Burkett said as he explained the contest with Loveland was tied at 49 late in the fourth quarter, but a few mental errors allowed the Indians to pull away in the game’s waning minutes.

Berthoud will begin the 2018-19 season next Thursday through Saturday at BHS. The Spartans will face off with Skyview, Palisade and Mountain View in the three-game tourney.

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