As the 2021 delayed winter season approaches, the season will look very different to those of past years.
Condensed regular seasons, state tournaments and multiple COVID-19 adjustments are changing the way the sport will be played in the coming months.
As of Las Animas Huerfano County Health Department directives parents will watch from home as athletes take to the court to minimize the spread of COVID-19.
As Trinidad High School starts the semester online, the Miners will play their first game on Saturday, Feb 6. at Donnelly Gym against the Sargent Farmers.
“We have not even been able to start practice with COVID-19 and the way our school has been in session. We are behind the eight ball as it is. We are just looking to get on the floor and play basketball,” said Head Coach Lawrence Sandoval on Jan. 20.
The Miners kick off their new year and new season in a new league that will put them up against opponents on the Western side of the state.
“The league that we are coming into is definitely going to be a change for us. We are used to playing the St. Mary’s and Manitou Springs’ in the upper league we have been in for a while,” said Sandoval.
The Miners will play their version of the NBA’s “small ball” team. What the team lacks in height this season, is replaced by speed and ball handling.
These qualities will aid the Miners play style as they look to push the ball up the floor in transition.
The Lady Miners will change their play style from the past years, looking to speed the game up and open the floor.
On the defensive end, the Lady Miners will run an extended 1-2-2 zone to keep opponents out of the paint.
“If we can go in there and execute our game, I do not think we should have a problem winning the conference this year,” said Head Coach Lloyd Praedel.
Praedel has high hopes for his young Miner team and looks to make a competitive run at the state tournament in 2021.
Hoehne Farmer basketball will kick off its first game on Jan. 26, against the Las Animas Trojans at home.
The Farmers are part of the Santa Fe conference which stretches from Rye to Holly, the Santa Fe league is perennially a strong league, the annual host of state contenders.
Lady Farmer’s coach Kent Smith looks forward to a strong season returning seven players from the 2019-20 season.
“I have got more size than I have ever had at my three years at Hoehne,” said Smith.
His very athletic team wants to speed up the game spreading out the floor, in the set offense, Smith looks to use his size to run a High-low post offense in the half court.
The Lady Farmers two biggest league opponents this year will be Rye and Rocky Ford, who they face consecutively on Feb. 12 and 13.
On the other side of the coin, the Hoehne boys’ team have placed emphasis on mental preparations for the season.
In the absence of fans and cheerleaders the Farmers will mentally prepare to find a way to compete without the energy that spectators bring.
In the Santa Fe league the Farmers will face the Fowler Grizzlies and Holly Wildcats, the annual powerhouses of the league.
While the shortened season and mask mandates will change the way basketball looks throughout the state this year, Smith hopes his seniors will get a chance at their last season.
The Mustangs will open their basketball season with a road game to Crowley County on Jan. 28.
Kim is in an expanded district this year stretching 190 miles from La Veta to Walsh, the Mustangs have entered the 2021 season ranked 14 in the CHSAA coaches’ poll.
“I wouldn’t say there is one team to look our for to be honest with you, I think we are in a pretty good league. I think every game is going to be a struggle and we’re really going to have to play our best game especially with the shortened season,” said Mustang’s Coach Adam Lucero.
The Mustangs return a young team with lots of height this year, a luxury they have historically not been blessed with in the small community.
“We are not going to change a whole lot from last year.” Said Lucero, “we lost a really good senior class so that is going to affect us, but we are still going to play the same basketball we have been playing,”
The Mustangs graduated a senior class of five, which accounted for five of their six top scorers, they will return just a single senior for the class of 2021.
The Lady Mustangs are on a different path returning their entire roster. They will take the court with three seniors leading the charge.
Returning key leadership at the point guard, shooting guard and in the post the Lady Mustangs look to take the conference championship and make a run at the state title.
“We want to be competitive and push our limits. We’ve all been looking for a state appearance and would love to reach that goal this year,” said Senior Guard Talara Nittler.
Primero Bulldogs will open their home season on Jan. 30, against the Antonito Trojans at 1 p.m.
Primero returns their top four scorers from last year, currently ranked sixth in the CHSAA preseason coaches’ poll, many opposing coaches have them in the bid for a state title.
“I want to give the team more structure in transition, and we are going to be more defensive minded,” said Head Coach Greg Robinson.
At the Western edge of their conference, Primero will have some traveling to do this season, facing four teams over 100 miles away.
“This year’s team 2020-21 will bring a more competitive approach, as well as a new coaching philosophy,” said Robinson the Primero varsity coach from 2003-13.
In the 2019-20 season the Primero Bulldogs fell one point short of upsetting the reigning state champions De Beque in the regional tournament, they look to pick up where they left off last season with a trip to the state tournament.
Primero will bring back Lady Bulldog basketball in the 2021 season their first team since 2018.
“As far as our students go, they are pretty open minded to it (masks), they mostly just want to get out there and play,” said Head Coach James Vigil.
Debuting their first team in three years the Lady Bulldogs are a young team, with one senior and five freshmen, Vigil said his team’s emphasis for the season will be focused on development.
“Now that we have got our numbers and have been able to practice for a couple weeks now I am optimistic about the year,” said Vigil.