Unlucky is definitely a word that can be associated with the Estes Park boys basketball season in 2020. What could have been a promising season got derailed with injuries across the board.
But moving forward, the team has a promising outlook. Last year's team didn't have a single senior depart the squad and it even featured one of the top scorers in Class 3A in Ethan Hill.
But it was the way that the 2019-20 season played out that might be the biggest key in the Bobcats turning around their 8-15 record from a year ago.
"I had some inexperienced players that received varsity experience that wouldn't have otherwise," coach Jason Reetz said. "Our depth will be a lot better this year because of that."
Thirteen players recorded varsity minutes for the Bobcats last year, but only six of them played in more than 11 games. Junior Kian Gerig averaged 10.4 points per game but didn't play after Dec. 20. In his final game of the year, he scored 13 points to help Estes Park beat Heritage Christian 59-57.
From that point on, Hill became the focal point of the Bobcats' offense. He finished the year averaging 19.3 points per game and didn't score fewer than 10 points in any game after the Heritage Christian win.
"When everybody went down and out last year, I could see it Ethan's eyes, the weight of the world was on his shoulders," Reetz said. "He wanted to do more and more."
Moving forward, Reetz hopes that some of the other players will grow into their roles and provide more support for Hill so that the team can be effective through several players instead of just him.
Reetz will look to someone like JD McCown to help carry the load. Of the players who played in more than 11 games, McCown ended the year as the No. 2 scorer on the team at 8.8 points per game.
"One man can't get it done by himself," Reetz said. "Ethan's role is going to be pushing the rest of the guys to do their job and be where they need to be."
The Patriot League has always had its fair share of talented basketball teams and players. Estes Park is hoping it can insert itself into that conversation. The combination of more players with varsity experience and the leading scorer in the league is going to make Estes Park a team that won't be easy to deal with.
"The whole Patriot League thinks all we have is Ethan," Reetz said. "It's everything else that's going to have to fly under the radar."
The offseason work has been creative this year as it has for all teams, but the Bobcats are anxious to get on the floor when it counts for real and emerge as a legitimate threat in all of 3A.