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story.lead_photo.caption Russellville's boys varsity basketball team for 2018-19 consists of Mason Stewart, Jared Shirley, Mason Brenner, Nikolas Graham, Trenton Morrow, Joseph Schroer, Taylor Crossman, Bladen Kremer, Gabe Little, Bryce Mehrhoff, and Landon Plochberger. The team is coached by Kevin Bissmeyer, not pictured. (Submitted photo)

The Russellville Indians boys basketball team is looking to bounce back from a tough season last year, where they finished 4-21 on the season and lost in the first round of the Class 2 District 8 Tournament 79-47 to Harrisburg.

Head coach Kevin Bissmeyer said he wants the team to focus on fundamentals.

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"We are trying to improve our transition game and our full-court pressure defense," Bissmeyer said. "These are things we are going to be real big on this year."

He said this year's team is pretty young and does not have much experience and is not the tallest team. So, they are working on their conditioning to help their transition game.

Bissmeyer said the team is going to have to lean on its seniors early in the season.

"Right now, we are going to have to lean on the upperclassmen a little bit," Bissmeyer said. "We are going to take some lumps early; we are going to play some of our young kids and throw them in the fire and see what happens a little bit.

"We do have three to five guys who all have varsity experience who we will be able to use this year, to kind of down-play the effect of our youth."

The team is athletic and quick and its personality is a strength, according to Bissmeyer.

"The personality of the team is exactly what you would want as a coach," he said. "We are going to be able to get up and down the court a whole lot."

When it comes to offense, transition and pushing the pace of the game are going to be focused on for Russellville.

"We don't want to slow down a whole lot, because that is where we know our weakness is going to be, so we are definitely going to try to push the pace," Bissmeyer said.

On defense, to make up for the lack of height, Bissmeyer said helping out with defense in the paint and trying to keep the ball out of the hands of the opponent's big men are going to be keys for the team.

"We are really working on doing our work early on defense, but a lot of that is going to come with denying the passes inside," Bissmeyer said "We can't really help the fact that we are shorter, but we can defensively work to deny passes to those larger players."

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