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      Wayde is Enough: Saukees starting to find some traction behind franchise guard


      It's a program that produced back-to-back Player of the Year winners in Brad Hamilton/Dalton Hoover in 2011 and 2012 and has as rich a basketball talent history as nearly any on this side of the state.

      And if the early returns from this season are to be believed, Wayde Smith is fast carving out his own place in the illustrious Pittsfield Pantheon...

      Brad Tomhave: "It's not a secret. Wayde has to score for us. And our offense has to go through him. He's shouldered a lot of that pressure and he's an explosive, explosive scorer. Maybe the most explosive scorer we've had here since we've been back. You know Brad and Dalton could both score the ball in a lot of different ways but Wayde just has that explosiveness about him. When he can get to the rim and elevate and finish at the rim is pretty impressive. And I've enjoyed watching him start his senior season. He's dominated some games on the offensive end and we need him to do that."

      Tuesday's win over West Central is the best evidence yet that Brad Tomhave's subtle crafting (and yes, tweaking) of his system around Wayde Smith's talents is starting to yield dividends.

      Brad Tomhave: "When they came back and played the way they did Tuesday Night, it kind of solidified why we are doing some of the things we are doing in practice, scaling it back and really focusing on a lot of the basics. We've done a lot of work. Got back in the gym. And the kids have had a really good attitude and approach to why we are doing the things we are doing and have welcomed that change."

      Granted, some of the changes (like the noticably different tempo of the Saukee Offense) have come with their fair share of early growing pains. But Brad Tomhave is finding value in that as well, especially when you consider the caliber of opponents these guys have played.

      Brad Tomhave: "We did. We were forced to grow up a lot, absolutely, within that first four games. We played some outstanding competition. I think it gave us a chance to take a step back and realize what we need to do, how we need to scale some things back both offensively and defensively because we have a lot of growth yet to do with this team. And there were a lot of individuals that were just getting their first varsity experience and that first week really not only opened up their eyes, but opened up our eyes as to how we need to approach this season....We just hope that the kids realize why we put the schedule together like we do and the teams that we play. There is a benefit to it. And hopefully at the end of the year, they've learned a lot and they've learned how to play in some high intensity games against some very very good competition in some great places. So hopefully....wins and losses are nice, but the experiences that they get and things that they take out of those games help you in February when it means the most."