Golddiggers boys hoops looking ahead to new year, changes

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By Alissa Noe

The Clear Creek boys basketball program will look a lot different this year.

The Golddiggers have a new coach, a new cast of leaders and a new league to round it out. Scott Haebe, who came over from Evergreen High School — where he coached for two and a half decades — took over the program from John Onago, who was fired mid-season last year.

Already, he’s been enacting a new style of offense for the Diggers with the high-paced, well-distributed Princeton system.

“I’m not sure how much change (I want),” Haebe said. “I’m just implementing stuff that I’ve done for 30 years. I don’t know a ton of what they did offensively or defensively. I just kind of asked them general questions. I have some decent depth, so we’re going to try to play a fast pace, maybe a little faster pace than we played at Evergreen at times. I even want to try to press a little bit more than we did at Evergreen.”

In past years, the Diggers played 3A competition throughout the regular season before moving to 2A come tournament time. Now, they’ll play in the 2A Mile High League that also includes some 1A teams.

The players believe the move will benefit them for playoffs down the road.

“I wouldn’t really say it’s exciting,” senior guard Lucas Gerding said. “I’d say it prepares us better for playoffs because these are the teams we’re actually going to be playing in playoffs rather than playing 3A all year and having to play teams we’ve never played before. I think it’s going to be helpful in the long run.”

More than that, the Diggers are a completely different team without two of its top three scorers from last season. Noah Sarria often accounted for 25 to 30+ points for Clear Creek per game, meaning he’s left a huge hole in its offense. Ty Judge was in the top tier of scoring as well, just behind Gerding.

Because Gerding produced so well for the Diggers last year, often averaging in double-digit scoring as the team’s second-highest scorer, he’s poised to take on a leadership role on both offense and defense.

“Obviously missing Noah and Ty, they both had a huge impact on both offense and defense, but we’ve got players that can step up,” Gerding said. “I wouldn’t say it’s going to be different distributing scoring-wise. We’re still going to have me and Ben (Griffin) and Seattle (Schuessler) and Reese (Onago). … We just have guys that can do everything.”

Haebe said his team has good depth and a nice mixture of shooting talent, with guys who are able to score outside and others who can take the ball to the rim. Now, the team will be more balanced. After all, the Princeton offense is designed to get more people involved.

Not only that, but he’ll be implementing a stronger defensive system that will have the Diggers trap more and try to press a little more. That way, if the offense has an off night, they can still hold their opponents at bay.

In the end, the goal is to earn a spot in the district tournament and, hopefully, go beyond even that in the postseason.

“I’m looking forward to playing with these guys because I’ve been with most of them all four years, and then we have sophomores that are playing up in the varsity,” senior guard-forward Justin Crain said. “We know who our shooters are and what everyone’s strengths and weaknesses are.”