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Cardinals bring back solid group from 2005 regional playoff squad

Last year, the Grand Valley boys basketball team ended the season with an 11-10 record, landing the Cardinals with a fifth-place finish in the Class 2A District 5 League. They made it to Regionals, but were knocked out by Dolores, 66-36, ending their season sooner than they hoped.”We were really inconsistent last year, on both sides of the ball,” said head coach Scott Kiburis. “We beat some good teams and then lost to some teams that we should have beaten.”But this year, they return six letter winners, four of whom were starters. Their leading scorer has recovered from his season-ending injury, and Grand Valley has high hopes for the 2005-06 season.”I think we are state bound,” junior Luke Braby said.Junior Sam McKinley, who tore his ACL at the end of last season, was the Cardinals leading scorer and has been doing rehabilitation during the offseason.”Everything is going well,” McKinley said. “I’ll be ready to go.”Kiburis, who has coached the team for six years, also thinks the team has a bright future and said his team is strong on offense.”Our scorers are returning – Dylan Culver and Sam McKinley. They were some of the top scorers in the league last year. And we’ve got Luke Braby, who was one of the leading underclassmen last year.”The Cardinals began practicing Nov. 14 with 30 hopefuls at tryouts. They open the season with a nonleague contest against Hayden on Dec. 1.For players like Braby, that date won’t come soon enough.”This is what I live for. During the offseason we have worked hard in the weight room and done a lot of camps as a team this summer,” Braby said.McKinley and Braby both agree that offense is the team’s biggest strength, but they work on defense a lot at practice.”We shot the ball great on offense, and at practice we are focusing on our defense,” Braby said.”Our biggest challenge will be to maintain focus on the fundamental parts of basketball – like defense,” Kiburis said.Although Kiburis wants Grand Valley to win, his main goal is to make sure his players have fun.”Our goal is to continue to enjoy to play basketball and to compete at the highest level we can,” Kiburis said.With a huge chunk of his roster returning and a league that is up for grabs, Kiburis is optimistic.”We have a lot of returners, and I don’t think our league is going to be as strong as it used to be,” Kiburis said.


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