MARINETTE — The word most often uttered by Ric Powers this season to describe his team could be “patience.”

The St. Thomas Aquinas Academy boys basketball coach is without a trio of seniors (Jack Farley, Christian Hornick and Tyler Stuart) from last year’s team and they accounted for about 95 percent of the Cavaliers’ points. This gives Powers, entering his 19th year as coach, perhaps the biggest void to fill in a season.

“It will definitely be a year of patience,” Powers said. “We’ve worked strictly on the fundamentals from Day 1 with this group. It’s hard to do anything if you can’t dribble so that’s one of the key things we’re working on.”

Though the Cavaliers were reliant on their seniors last year, a pair of freshman — Alex Powers and Griffin Knox — had significant playing time and made contributions on both ends of the floor.

Now as sophomores, both Powers and Knox will be tasked with helping lead a team littered with freshmen and sophomores.

“Alex and Griffin were the only two that saw real minutes last year, so they’ll be counted on heavily,” Powers said. 

Powers displayed an ability to shoot from outside and is the Cavaliers’ best perimeter player. Knox is still developing his shot, but his athleticism is among the best in the M&O Conference and he is an excellent defender.

Fellow sophomores Brennon Cyr-Smith and Lucas Hofer will also be expected to help lead this young Cavalier group. Cyr-Smith has shown flashes on offense and Hofer is the Cavaliers’ best ball-handler.

From that point on, inexperience takes over, though STAA does have Hayden Knox back as a senior. 

Filling out the rest of the team are sophomore Dominic Piasecki, freshmen Wyatt Poquette, Blake Dedamos and Joey Posani. Dedamos and Poquette will be contributors off the bench. Piasecki had some playing time last season and Posani is recovering from a leg injury and is hopeful to return at some point this season.

Powers said the Cavaliers’ focus is on getting better every day and outworking their opponents.

“We’re going to take our lumps and our biggest challenge will be to find good shots, because we’re limited with size and playmakers on offense,” Powers said . “Realistically, we’re playing for 2021, when we’ll have a large group of seniors with vast experience.”

The early season schedule is favorable for the Cavaliers, opening at home against the Tri-City Eagles on Friday and playing several early conference games against younger teams.

“We will struggle against teams with good size, like Suring, but I like our schedule to start the season,” Powers said. “Our goal is to be in our games and have a chance early. Teaching the basics and doing things the right way will be something we focus on all season.”