Daily Inter Lake | December 8, 2023 12:00 AM

Last season was a banner one for the Glacier boys basketball team, which went 17-8 and picked up the second State AA trophy in program history with a third-place finish.

Nine seniors, including 6-foot-7 Noah Dowler and a bevy of 3-point shooters, graduated off that squad, leaving coach Mark Harkins to fill in a lot of spots.

It certainly helps to have Cohen Kastelitz to build around. The 6-3 senior was the lone junior to get ample minutes last season, and he averaged 10.3 points and 7.8 rebounds a game.

“He’s just relentless,” Harkins said. “His motor is phenomenal, he’s really athletic and a great leader. He’s just a great example for the other kids and how we expect them to play.

“So that’s going to help us. But Cohen’s the only kid back for me that has any varsity experience at all. They’re all kind of learning our system and expectations. That’s the biggest challenge.”

With the season opener at Great Falls Russell looming, Harkins has a starting five roughed out: Jackson Endresen, a 6-4 senior, and Brantly Salmonsen, a 6-5 senior, are inside along with Kastelitz; Liam Ells is at point guard and fellow junior Luke Nikunen at the shooting guard.

So there’s size, even before 6-6 Noah Cummings — one of three Flathead players to transfer to Glacier — becomes eligible on the new year (guard Josh Eagleton and forward Slate Burrington are eligible now). Cummings averaged 16 points in 2022-23.

“We don’t have a real tall kid like we did with Noah, but we have a lot of kids from 6-3 to 6-5,” Harkins said. “I like our length and I think that will help us defensively, especially.”

Ben Winters, a 6-5 senior, and Gabe Christianson, a 6-3, senior provide more height inside; on the outside is 6-3 senior guard Owen Henry and 5-11 junior Easton Kauffman.

Harkins rates Ells as a great defender and leader, and along with Nikunen can uphold the Wolfpack’s reputation of hitting open threes in their inside-outside offense.

“We lost some great shooters but we have some guys who put a lot of time in,” Harkins said. “I’m excited about this team. We don’t have a lot of experience, but the ceiling’s high. 

“All of our kids have the potential to fill in for those seniors we lost. We just need to see who’s going to step up.”