For the past four years, the Shakopee boys basketball team has been building for this season.
This year's Shakopee's boys basketball team has high expectations after going 22-6 last year and returning just about everybody from that team.
Many of the seniors on this year's team have played at the varsity level for the past four seasons.
"We have a very senior heavy group which is exciting as a coach, second-year head coach Jake Dammann said. "You always want as many seniors as you can. They’ve come into the season prepared and competing every day."
The Sabers return its top three scorers in Charles Katona, Will Cordes and Caleb Druvenga who all averaged more than 10 points per game for the Sabers. They also return seniors Bruce Lockwood, Jr. and Aaron Bosley, who both averaged around six points per game.
"We have a lot of talent and a lot of ability in all of our positions," Dammann said. "Even our bench, we can go eight, nine, 10 deep and our talent level doesn’t drop. Which is exciting."
Other players that Dammann expect to get contributions from this season are Nick Katona, Cade McGraw, Jake Schmidt, and Zach Wood.
Katona is the team's top returning scorer at 16 points per game and will play at the University of Minnesota-Duluth next year.
"(Katona) is our Mr. Everything," Dammann said. "He leads us in steals, rebounds, and points and he’s really a do it all player. There might be games where we don’t lean on him as much for scoring but we lean on him everyday in practice and everyday in games to be a competitor and be a leader, and set the tone from his leadership and his energy. He knows what it takes to win at a high level, so I will lean on him for his experience and leadership."
Those seniors give Dammann and the Sabers high hopes that they can accomplish big things this season.
"Expectations are high but we are centered around getting better today and focused on how we can get better today," Dammann said.
Even with all that talent, winning the South Suburban Conference or the section and qualifying for state won't be easy as both the conference and section are loaded with the top teams in the state.
Shakopee should be one of those top teams and will probably be ranked in the top-10 in the state when the rankings come out but so will SSC teams like Prior Lake and Eastview.
The section features top ranked teams Eden Prairie and Prior Lake. In addition to solid programs like Edina, Chaska and Minnetonka.
Shakopee will get to see how good they are early on as they open the season with Edina, Wayzata, Hopkins and St. Thomas Academy. Hopkins and Wayzata are expected to be two of the better teams in the state. Edina is always good and St. Thomas will be ranked at Class 3A level.
"It's exciting. We play tough teams in our non conference, we play tough teams in our conference and we play tough teams in our section and that’s the way I want to have it," Dammann said. "It challenges our guys to be prepared every single day in practice, to get after it every single day in practice and to improve daily. We want to play the best teams in the state. That helps us measure where we are at. We will really lean on our seniors going into those games and give them the opportunity to be leaders and set the tone for the season."