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Baraga Vikings boys basketball team to take it to the inside

The Baraga High School varsity boys basketball team includes, from left, head coach Daryl Putala, Colton Lindemann, Gunnar Lindemann, Matt Beck, Jake Putala, Kolin Kangas and Joey Francois. Not pictured are Caleb Hansen, Dominic Dompier, Solomon Whitaker, Thomas Smith and Nick Denomie. (Paul Peterson photo)

BARAGA — Minus past firepower, the Baraga High School varsity boys basketball team will now rely on a combination of veterans and newcomers.

Brendan Varline was among the scoring leaders in the Copper Country with a nearly 20-point average. He, Austin Smith and several others were lost to graduation.

“We did lose a lot of experience and a good part of our scoring punch,” Vikings coach Daryl Putala said. “We’re hoping to fill in the holes.”

Senior forward Jake Putala, the son of the coach, filled in at forward late last season. He’s grown to 6-foot-4, added some weight and will be counted on in the pivot.

“Jake is a big kid and he has some decent offensive skills,” Daryl Putala said. “We’re hoping he can give us some inside scoring.”

Another veteran returning is senior Nick Denomie.

“He (Denomie) is only 5-9, but he can dunk the basketball,” the coach said. “He has some very good skills.”

Juniors Colton Lindemann and Gunnar Lindemann are two other players who could become starters.

Seniors Dominic Dompier and Matt Beck are also in the running for time. The latter is a 6-2, 240-pounder who should help out under the basket.

Other players who will be counted on are Joey Francois, Kolin Kangas, Caleb Hansen, Solomon Whitaker and Thomas Smith.

“The nice thing about this group of kids is that they’re all about equal in ability,” Daryl Putala said. “That should enable us to use a lot of players.”

He sees a tight race in the Copper Country Conference.

“I would rate Chassell as the favorite in the league,” he said. “They have just about everyone coming back. Dollar Bay will also be pretty good.

“Jeffers is always going to be good. Lake Linden-Hubbell is the defending champion, so you can’t count them out.”

As for his team, the coach knows one thing for sure.

“I don’t know what to expect, but I do know they won’t quit in any game,” he said. “I like the idea that we could sneak up on some teams.”

Baraga boys

2016-17 schedule

All times Eastern

Dec. 5 — at LL-Hubbell, 7:20 p.m.

Dec. 8 — Chassell, 7:20 p.m.

Dec. 12 — at Watersmt., 7:20 p.m.

Dec. 19 — L’Anse, 7:20 p.m.

Dec. 20 — Calumet, 7:20 p.m.

Jan. 5 — Jeffers, 7:20 p.m.

Jan. 9 — at Hancock, 7:20 p.m.

Jan. 16 — Bessemer, 7:20 p.m.

Jan. 19 — LL-Hubbell, 7:20 p.m.

Jan. 23 — at Wake.-Mar., 7:30 p.m.

Jan. 27 — Rep.-Mich., 7:20 p.m.

Jan. 31 — at L’Anse, 7:20 p.m.

Feb. 3 — at Dollar Bay, 7:20 p.m.

Feb. 10 — at Rep.-Mich., 7:30 p.m.

Feb. 14 — Dollar Bay, 7:20 p.m.

Feb. 17 — Ewen-TC, 7:20 p.m.

Feb. 21 — at Chassell, 7:20 p.m.

Feb. 24 — Watersmeet, 7:20 p.m.

Feb. 28 — at Jeffers, 7:20 p.m.

March 2 — at Ontonagon, 7:20 p.m.