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Boys Basketball Review: Changes in store for Irish

Senior players are important to Rosemount boys basketball coach Mike Manning.

For Manning, by the time his players reach their senior year, they've paid their dues. They deserve their time in the spotlight.

It's one reason Manning chooses to go with his seniors at the beginning of the season, and ride the upperclassmen through December.

This year's Irish were no different. With eight seniors on the squad, Manning wanted to see how his seniors would respond.

They responded so well they kept their playing time once the new year hit.

"What I liked was, we won in January on a lot of sheer heart, determination, and effort," Manning said of his team's midseason run. "I just wish we were able to shoot better, more consistent, all season long. There were some nights we had a drought in our shooting."

The Irish entered a game on Dec. 30 with a 1-5 record. From there -- led by the seniors -- Rosemount won four games in a row and seven of nine before a late-season fade.

"I am very pleased with the season," Manning said. "I was pleased with the effort. Getting to 10 wins is a good thing. We would have liked to do better in February. It was a tough month for us.

"We didn't have Dusty Carter, and we didn't have enough height as some of the other teams in the Lake Conference. And we didn't shoot well. We then played a nearly perfect game at Eastview at the end of the season."

It was a strong senior crew.

Senior Jack Pauly had 135 assists and 52 steals playing point guard. Chase Vogler scored 9.8 points per game and was second on the team in assists and steals.

Pauly won the team's best teammate award, while seniors Carter and Vogler were given the coaches' award. Senior Karl Miranda was named the best attitude and senior Trenton Thompson was named the Mr. Hustle award winner.

Senior Derek Parker -- one of three captains with Carter and Pauly -- was given the Gym Rat award, while senior Garrett Glaus was the most outstanding academic athlete.

"I really liked working with these kids," Manning said. "They worked hard. They were good teammates. It was just a nice mix of kids to coach."

But it's the last team Manning will coach. He announced after the season he will step down as coach. Manning's next task will be the search for his replacement.

One reason Manning feels comfortable moving on is because he believes there is potential on the roster for the next coach.

"One thing I've tried to do everywhere I've been is leave the team better than I found it," Manning said. "I hope that's the case. Hopefully I left the program in a pretty good state."

Leading scorer Zach Vraa was a junior who averaged 18.7 points per game. He was also second in rebounds with 157.

He was named the team's most valuable player and was an all-conference player.

Junior Justin Larson was named the team's best rebounder after leading the squad with 158 boards. He added 5.5 points-per-game.

Freshman Matt Larson received valuable experience after joining the team for the stretch run. He was part of a ninth-grade team that won its conference.

Academic champs

The Irish were also named the Class 4A, Section 3 academic champions, the second straight year they have earned the honor.