LONGMONT — For better or worse, Silver Creek's Trent Dykema was always a step or two ahead of his peers when it came to playing basketball at a young age.
While his exceptional abilities have allowed him to excel and quickly advance to higher levels growing up, Dykema also often found himself playing in older age groups and separated from many of the friendships he had formed with players his own age. But with the Raptors graduating six talented seniors at the end of last school year, the time has come for the 2018 class of players to join Dykema at the varsity level.
Since last season's Silver Creek boys basketball team set the program's best single-season win total at 21, Dykema and his teammates are eager for the long-awaited return of their camaraderie as they try to repeat last season's achievements.
"I'm just trying to be efficient this year and do whatever my team needs from me, whether it's scoring, rebounding or getting steals," Dykema said. "This season is definitely going to be different because I'll be playing with a group of friends that are coming up to varsity. That should really help us to become really close and become a unit pretty fast."
In leading his team to the Class 4A Sweet 16 last season, Dykema averaged 20.4 points, 7.4 rebounds, 3.0 steals and 2.7 assists per game. While the temptation to pump up those stat totals and challenge several individual records at Silver Creek is real, Dykema said he isn't interested in any statistical improvement unless it helps the Raptors win games. Efficiency, the Colorado School of Mines commit said, remains the goal and even if he were to average 25 points a game, Dykema said he would be disappointed to do it without at least shooting a team-friendly 50 percent from the field.
Wherever his senior season falls in Silver Creek lore, Dykema remains excited about to see his team's potent lineup take the court when the Raptors' season begins at Evergreen on Dec. 1.
Senior Christian Warner, who was the sixth man for the Raptors last season, is poised for a strong season as a talented second option behind Dykema once he has recovered from a wrist injury after the holiday break. At 6-foot-7 and 6-4, respectively, seniors Erik Grossant and Trevor Ritters both logged varsity minutes last season and are ready for more in 2017-18. And football-first athletes like senior Joseph Roth-Bogrett and junior Nick Eaton are looking forward to larger roles this basketball season.
"We lost a couple big pieces last year but I think we've filled in well and I think we'll be good," Dykema said. "We're trying to build off what we did last season. Our goal is still to have as good a season or better this year."
When it comes to approaching last winter's water-mark campaign, head coach Bob Banning said the will focus on what has worked, which is strong defense and unselfish offensive basketball. And while it's no secret that Dykema will be green-lit to take charge, especially while the Raptors are shorthanded early on, Banning said he is excited to see if this year's group can follow their predecessors' example and put it all together.
"The truth is that you get a good feel for what your ball club is going to be like in the summer and we did really well at our team camps," Banning said. "We have some good guys who didn't get a lot of playing time last year because they were behind some really good seniors. We have some pretty good basketball players who have been waiting for their turn and have high expectations of themselves, and that goes a long way in high school basketball."