The Big Sandy Mountaineer -

Pioneer boys high on experience, expectations


December 11, 2019

This is the year to put it all together.

When third-year coach Thomas Dilworth arrived at Big Sandy, he could look ahead to this year and see how things would be shaping up for the Pioneer varsity boys.

There are six seniors on the squad.

“Few teams bring back as much experience as we have,” Dilworth said.

He speaks about his team with confidence and something intangible, akin to the excitement children display on Christmas morning just before the lid comes off the biggest box.

“We hope to create a lot of mismatch problems … I think we have size this year, across the board,” Dilworth said. “The boys have bought in and have a high expectation of themselves this year.”

Seniors Brock Proulx, Ryan Roth and Jeremiah Genereux return from an 11-10 squad, who dealt with untimely injuries that brought their district tournament run to a premature end a season ago. They are joined by classmates Clint Darlington, fresh of an all-state selection in football; Elijah Wagoner, who also did not play last season; and Christopher Burns, who transferred in from Box Elder.

“Elijah, that kid’s going to surprise a lot of people,” Dilworth said. “Clint gives us length and size. Brock can really knock down that 10-, 12-foot jumper … Jeremiah is a stretch-the-floor specialist who can knock it down from two or three feet behind the arc. Ryan shoots the 3 well but gets to the rim as well as anybody in the conference.”

The brothers Strutz will also add to the Pioneers’ strength.

“(Junior) Kade Strutz is going to be a beast and I think he’s going to come out of his shell offensively,” Dilworth said. “(Freshman) Kody Strutz was phenomenal as an eighth grader … and has a quick first step.”

Junior Parker Proulx will also suit up for the Pioneer varsity come February as he recovers from an injury. Freshmen Braydon Cline and Rusty Gasvoda are slated to float between the varsity and JV squads.

The Pioneers’ depth is improved with the ability to put a junior varsity team on the court this year, unlike last season. Travis Baumann will coach the jayvees.

Eighth graders Jake Darlington, Lane Demontiney, Wylee Snapp and Cooper Taylor will play up to JV, fresh off a district tournament championship earned Saturday in Gildford. Samuel Cox and Christian Winderl will serve as team managers.

The season gets underway at 7:30 p.m. on Friday at Dutton against Dutton-Brady with a second nonconference matchup at 4:30 p.m. Saturday in Dutton against Augusta. The Pioneers open 9C play Friday, Dec. 20, at defending league champion Chinook. The home opener on Saturday, Dec. 21, matches Big Sandy against Hays-Lodgepole, the team who knocked them out of districts to conclude last season.

“Chinook, Fort Benton and Hays are the only three teams these boys haven’t beaten in their career,” Dilworth said. “Right out the gate, we are going to know right where we stand … different guys are going to have to shine on different nights.”

Big Sandy gets its first crack at Fort Benton on Jan. 4.

The coach added that his team’s offensive firepower will need to matched by defensive grit and discipline.

“We have a lot of kids that can score,” Dilworth said. “What will determine our success is our defense and if we can not turn over the basketball.


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