NEW AUBURN — The New Auburn boys basketball team may be coming off a 4-18 season, but that isn’t terribly concerning for them this year.

The Trojans, who have won two East Lakeland Conference titles in the last three years, are feeling optimistic heading into this winter. They’ve got several key players back in the mix and they collectively figure to improve upon last season’s performance.

“I would say the optimism is a little higher just because we have pretty much the same core of players that we had last year,” New Auburn coach Keenan Dahl said. “Everybody’s a year older and a little more experienced, a little stronger, and so I think we’ll be a little more competitive this year.”

There will be experience to build on from last year for many of the Trojans. Players like Dylan North, Logan Huset and Ethan Harder are back with a feel for the varsity game.

In a year where the East Lakeland is shaping up to have a lot of parity, the Trojans’ returning experience could help them in the title hunt.

“Our goal is always to be at the top of the conference. That’s not always attainable, but I think that this year it’s pretty wide open. We’ll see who really steps up and kind of wants to take control,” Dahl said.

Since they’ve got a group of players that already know the ropes, New Auburn has been able hit the ground running in its early season practices.

“There’s still lots of things we have to work on, but I would say we’ve been able to kind of just go with what we already know because most of these kids played last year,” Dahl said.

The Trojans have good size on their squad this season, highlighted by Huset’s 6-foot-7-inch frame. Travis Buss and North also eclipse the 6-foot mark.

“Our size is pretty good,” Dahl said. “Travis Buss will be playing this year and he’s about 6-3 and a strong rebounder. Dylan North is our leading scorer and our overall leader, I would say...he rebounds well and does a good job inside, too.”

New Auburn will naturally look to use that size to their advantage this year with an emphasis on post play. If they can get things to flow through their big guys, they’ll have a good chance to be successful.

“We’d like to have a strong post game and work inside out. Most of our baskets will come inside,” Dahl said.

The Trojans have been hard at work to get things ready for the season so far in practice. With about three weeks of practice to work with before their first game, they have had a chance to implement their game plan and spend a lot of time with it before facing actual competition.

“The kids have worked really hard. We get on them and they respond to it, it’s good to see that. Attitude has been really good,” Dahl said.

The Trojans will get their first chance to make their hard work pay off in their season opener against Webster on Friday. They open conference play against Flambeau on Dec. 12, and they believe they have as good a shot as any team to be competitive.

“I don’t think there’s any real superpower that nobody can beat, so this could be a year that the leader has three or four losses in conference and everybody just beats up on everybody,” Dahl said.

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Chippewa Herald sports reporter

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