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Tom Mix, Published January 23 2013

Experience bolsters Carrington boys

CARRINGTON, N.D. – A lot of things are going well for the Carrington boys basketball team heading into the last weeks of the regular season.

The Cardinals have started the season 13-0 and are the No. 5-ranked team in North Dakota Class B.

The success is in large part due to a roster that features eight returning seniors. Carrington also returns four of its starting five from last season’s District 7 championship squad.

“We came into the season with high expectations,” senior center Scott Burhman said. “We are right where we want to be at this point in the season. Everyone is working hard and improving every day.”

Burnham along with Austin Johnson (Sr., forward), Taylor Skytland (Sr., guard), and Seth Abaurrea (Soph., guard) are the Cardinals’ returning starters.

The Cardinals, who are

3-0 in District 7, ended last season 16-9 and fell to North Star in the Region 4 championship game.

“It was a good finish to the season,” said second-year Carrington head coach Matthew Hone. “We only came up one game short of going to state so everyone was feeling good coming into this season.

“So far it has continued to play out.”

Johnson is averaging 14.7 points and 5.9 rebounds per game to lead the Cardinals. Burnham is close behind with 13.3 points per game and 5.0 rebounds per game.

Johnson and Burnham are both 6-foot-5 and pose defensive matchup challenges to opponents on a nightly basis.

Burnham, who won the state long jump title last May, has 18 blocked shots and was Class B’s top returning shot blocker.

“First of all, (Burnham) brings good height and causes mismatches with a lot of teams we run into,” Hone said. “He also brings a lot of athleticism to the floor.

“On the same side of the coin Austin does too. So when you got both of those guys on the floor with height and athleticism in that low post area, it causes a lot of trouble for teams.”

Abaurrea (10.2 points per game) and Skytland (10.3 points per game) are also averaging double figures.

Hone also said depth has been a strength for his squad.

“We got quality substitutes coming off the bench that can fill any of the starting five positions,” Hone said. “When we get into foul trouble or have an injury we have been able to keep rolling and pick up right where we left off.”

Carrington’s schedule is about to heat up.

The Cardinals’ next game is against District 7 rival and No. 6-ranked Four Winds-Minnewaukan at 6 p.m. Friday in Fort Totten, N.D.

“Everybody has to be ready to play for that game,” Burnham said.

The Indians are 11-2 and 3-0 in district play. Their only losses are to No. 1 Beulah and No. 2 North Star.

“They are always a challenge and they will be a challenge again this year,” Hone said. “It is looking like it will be coming down to us and them for the District 7 title.”

After the matchup with the Indians, the Cardinals enter a three-game week capped by a meeting against North Star on Feb. 2.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Tom Mix at (701) 241-5562