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Prep basketball: Picolotti uses summer season to build experience for Spartans' new starters

SYCAMORE – Year 1 is in the books, with the heavy lifting of installing and learning a new scheme out of the way.

Now for coach Ryan Picolotti and the Sycamore boys basketball team, Year 2 is underway.
The Spartans competed in more than 30 games this summer with a large group of seniors adjusting to increased roles on the team.

“Summer’s what it is – a chance to get experience, get back in the gym, play together as a team,” Picolotti said. “We had some good moments, we had some bad moments, but that’s what basketball is about.”

Ethan Heinrich is the lone starter back from last year. But there was a large group of then-juniors that practiced with the varsity and got some occasional minutes.

Picolotti said the group – including Trevian Cook, Payton Picolotti, Peyton Wiegmann, Justin Pottorff, Jake Nienaber and Austin Schroeder – has looked good throughout the summer.

“A lot of those guys who didn’t get a lot of playing time in the season, this is their chance to work into the rotation,” Picolotti said.

The Spartans flirted with .500 most of last season but got hot in the postseason and reached the finals of the Class 3A Genoa-Kingston Sectional with a chance to win it on the game’s final shot.

Heinrich said the team has adjusted well under Picolotti’s system and said the seniors are helping the younger players learn the ins and outs.

“The offense makes a lot more sense to us,” Heinrich said. “It will be a lot harder for the juniors learning it, just like it was for us, but we’ll definitely get the hang of it.”

Picolotti said the summer slate included a trip to a University of Northern Iowa camp in which the Spartans got to see some different teams. He said he felt confident that any struggles the team showed can be corrected by the time the season tips off.

“The lineups are very inconsistent, so it’s just a matter of what they want to do to get better,” Picolotti said. “Some of the skill stuff we worked on, but they have the chance to get better on their own and then come together as a team and hopefully get some momentum for the season.”

“I wanted to see us more comfortable with the offense we’re running, and I felt like this summer they got more confidence in it,” he said. “They get the reads and cuts a little better. We got good shots most of the summer, it’s just a matter of making them.”

Heinrich said he also saw that shot selection and creation was good, it was just a matter of getting the ball in the bucket.

“We had a rough start, and we got all the shots we wanted. The offense is working, but we just didn’t finish,” Heinrich said. “We just didn’t put the ball in the hoop. But once we start practicing, we’ll put the ball where we want.”

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