Coconino boys basketball returned to a traditional summer schedule this week, with games and practices set for nearly every day in June.
Following a historic winter season in which the Panthers went 17-2 and reached the 4A Conference state tournament semifinals, Coconino is trying to get back to that point with a different group. The Panthers will have a new-look roster — Coconino graduated its four top scorers in 2021 — and June tournaments, leagues and team training will allow the coaching staff to begin figuring out the next lineup.
“We’re going through a big transition. We had a great team last year, lost a lot of great seniors. So now we’re looking for who’s going to be our new leaders,” Panthers head coach Mike Moran said.
“We’ve got big shoes to fill, but we’ve been working. A lot of us did club ball, and I think we’ve got a lot of potential,” added rising senior Matthew Reber.
As exciting as the winter 2021 season was, though, it ended in sadness. Coconino fell 69-46 at St. Mary’s, the eventual 4A state champion, in Phoenix in late March, in the semifinal.
Reber said he thinks about that game “all the time” and believes many of the other returning Panthers do, too. They consider what went right and wrong, and as early as spring began working to fix mistakes they saw.