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Sports

April 4, 2014

Bare keeps Comets a contender

VELMA — After the Class A state quarterfinal loss, senior Alan Beck said that, with coach Kenny Bare, Velma-Alma will always be competing for championships.

The 2014 edition is proof of that. His accomplishments earned him The Duncan Banner All-Area Boys Basketball Coach of the Year honor.

Expectations around the state were low coming into the season after the Comets lost eight seniors from the 2013 state quarterfinal team. Still, Bare remained upbeat.

“Everybody wrote us off, because when you lose eight seniors and six of your top seven, everybody thinks you can’t be really good,” Bare said. “The puzzle pieces were just right. Each month we played better than the month before.”

That steady progress culminated when the team reached the state tournament for a third straight year with a 19-point win versus No. 4 Cyril in the area consolation final. There was a lot of contributions from a lot of players that led to that.

First was the sophomores Ryan Ross and Jake McGuire. Ross turned into the steady point guard Bare needed. McGuire provided a physical presence in the paint.

Senior Conner Sullivan started scoring at a superstar level, topping 20 points consistently to provide help for the only returning starter senior Jaz Gayanich. The third and final senior on the team was Alan Beck, who was second on the team in rebounds and became the team’s best defender.

“Those guys right there learned how to play together and the puzzles pieces fit just at the right time,” Bare said. “We made a heck of a run through the playoffs. We got beat by the state champions (Glencoe) but gave them as good of a game as anybody.”

Behind all of that was Bare. First-year assistant coach Bobby Moore said Bare had a big hand in the success that the team had.

“He’s taught me so much more than I could have ever thought about basketball,” Moore said. “He was upbeat, positive, filling us with encouragement. We were backs against the wall coming into the season, nobody expected us to get much out of it and look where it ended up.”

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