Competing again for the Bison-Nebraska summer program may pay dividends for Connor Larson of Logan View this winter.
Larson, a sophomore-to-be guard for the Raiders, is on the Bison-Nebraska Gold 2 squad that is coached by Keith Maly of Millard North and Trevor Menke of Grand Island Northwest.
The team is competing this weekend in the Summer Jam in Chicago.
Last summer, Larson was a member of the Bison-Nebraska Green team. The experience in the program has been beneficial for the guard, according to Logan View/Scribner-Snyder coach Sean Forbes.
“Connor has really learned to play at a higher level by playing with the Bison,” Forbes said. “He is used to a faster speed of the game which makes him really good when he is back with the Logan View/Scribner-Snyder players.”
Larson tried out for the Gold in March at Norris High School. The team won their division in the South Dakota Spring Jam in Sioux Falls, S.D., and also competed at the Jayhawk Invitational in Olathe, Kansas, in May.
Last weekend, Gold 2 won their division in the OSA Tournament in Council Bluffs, Iowa.
“Our coaching is pretty good and we have good players on our team, which helps us a lot,” Larson said. “We’re all pretty good friends, too, and that helps us as a team.”
Larson said last year’s all-star experience helped him adjust during his first season with the Raiders. Forbes started five seniors, including Fremont Tribune All-Area picks Ben Moxness and Jacob Polk, but Larson was a key contributor off the bench.
“I think the Bison helped give me confidence and I wasn’t as nervous for high school,” he said. “I think AAU ball is harder than high school. The competition is tougher and it is more up-tempo.”
Larson said playing with a veteran lineup was a good learning experience for him.
“It was challenging for me sometimes, but I just took it game by game,” he said. “Mistakes happen, but you can’t dwell on them. You just have to keep moving forward.”
While Moxness, Polk, Nathan Taylor, Alex Hagerbaumer and Alex VonSeggern have graduated, Larson likes the potential of 2018-19 Raiders. He said several players, including Nathan Wacker, Austin Peters, Riley Hoetfelker and Trystain Roseberry, could be key contributors.
“I think we’ll be pretty good,” Larson said. “We play really hard and we all work together. Plus, we love playing the game.”
Forbes is planning on Larson having a bigger role this upcoming season.
“He will have the ball in his hands a lot during the game so he will be the floor leader,” he said. “He is a really good rebounding guard so we will look for him to play great defense, then rebound and push the ball.”
Larson is spending the offseason working on his shooting, specifically his mid-range jumper.
“I think that is coming along pretty well,” he said.
The Gold 2 will compete in the D1 Summer Classic July 20-22 in Minneapolis before playing in the Hardwood Classic July 27-29 in Lawrence, Kansas.
“We just need to approach these last few tournaments like we did last weekend,” Larson said. “If we do that, we’ll probably do well.”