Wayne trace basketball/John Rindahl/Archer Photography
Wayne trace basketball/John Rindahl/Archer Photography

BY Kevin Wannemacher

Times Bulletin Correspondent

sports@timesbulletin.com

HAVILAND - Head coach Jim Linder returns for his fifth season at the helm of the Wayne Trace boys basketball program and may face his biggest challenge expectation-wise as a head coach.

The Raiders bring back seven letter winners from a team that finished 10-12 last season and 3-4 in the Green Meadows Conference. With that much experience back, the red-white-and-blue faces a year where expectations will be much higher.

"We have experience back at all positions on the floor," noted Linder, who stands 31-58 after four seasons. "This team has the potential to be really good but we have to do the little things and each player needs to learn their roles."

A quartet of seniors leads the list of returnees for Wayne Trace.

Guard Grady Gudakunst (5-10), guard Dalton Sinn (6-3), forward Ryan Kortokrax (6-5) and forward Nick McClain (6-7) all come back for their final season in a Raider uniform.

Sinn led the team in scoring a year ago at 11.5 points per game while Gudakunst chipped in 8.8 markers a night. Gudakunst also added 85 assists and 36 steals on the year with Sinn recording 48 assists and 49 steals. Kortokrax bucketed 7.1 points a night and grabbed four rebounds per game with McClain posting 3.3 points and four boards a night.

Two juniors also return for the red-white-and-blue in guard Colby Speice (6-3) and forward Devin Wenzlick (6-2). Speice, who had a record setting season at quarterback in the fall, comes back following a year in which he scored 4.3 points and picked up 34 assists and 40 steals. Wenzlick chipped in 3.1 points and 2.8 boards a night for Wayne Trace last year.

The other returnee for the Raiders is sophomore Corbin Linder (6-0), who returns following a knee injury last season. As a freshman, Linder bucketed nine points a night and connected on 43 treys.

"Our bench will be a strength as we should be deep," added the Raider mentor. "The biggest thing for us is to learn our roles and excel at them. If we do that, we feel like we can have a very successful season."

Also looking for varsity playing time this year are a pair of juniors and another sophomore.

Junior forwards Broc Worden (6-1) and T.J. Blackmore (6-4) will battle for time as will sophomore guard Jake Arend (6-2).

"Improving at the little things is a key for us," Linder continued. "We need to work hard on improving in those areas. The other thing I think we need to do a better job at is becoming tougher on defense. I thought at times we were soft but we have to be better this year."

"This team has potential to be good," concluded the Raider head coach. "They have the talent but they also have to work hard and get better in each practice and each game. If they do that, we feel like the rest will take care of itself."

In the Green Meadows Conference, the race appears to be wide open with several of the league's squads returning talented players.

"The league is going to be very balanced," Linder concluded. "Every game will be a challenge because all eight teams are capable of beating each other."