(SAINT JOSEPH, Mo.) After a state semifinal berth in 2011, the Lafayette boys finishes .500 last season after a semifinal exit in the Class 4, District 16 tournament.
Tack on their streak of three straight MEC championships being snapped as well.
But head coach Chris Neff feels his team has the diversity to climb the mountain again in 2012.
"I think we have every right to believe that we can," he said. "Our kids have prepared themselves really well all offseason to get to this point. I'm really looking forward to some of our better players stepping up through the experience they gained."
That's a point Neff has had little trouble hammering into his team as he says the grouped appears to be fueled and ready for winter.
"It's been awfully easy, honestly, to coach the team up to this point. The enthusiasm's really high, the energy's great. They have their eyes set on things and they have goals in mind. Right now, we just have to keep them grounded at the task at hand."
"Anything is possible," junior forward Xavier Kurth said.
The Irish plan to do some shuffling on the court, sticking Kurth and Jeff Leeson in the post, while Billy Cook will be tasked to run things at the point.
"We'll look to him for some guidance," Neff said. "Especially the younger kids who will start during the season to kind of bring them along. Hopefully we'll get great things out of them as the season progresses."
"We've got good guys on the perimeter," Kurth said. "Jeff, he can stroke. Bill and Austin can stroke. We've got rebounders down low, Cody Massey especially."
The team will face stiff competition out of conference as well when they take part in high-caliber tournaments in Neosho and Columbia, Missouri.
Neff believes the stiffer the regular season competition, the more battle ready his team will be come tournament time.
"I think you have to play as many tough teams as you can and see as many different parts of the state as you can.