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Emporia High Head Coach Beau Welch (right) hollars out some pointers during the Spartans’ first practice last week. EHS will open its season on December 6.

The Emporia High boys return four players who have seen significant court minutes at the varsity level.

For the Spartans to improve on an 11-10 record from a year ago, they’ll need to get plenty of things from that core.

The biggest?

“I think toughness is pretty big with this group,” EHS Head Coach Beau Welch said. “It’s how we were successful this summer and it’s something that we’ve got to hang our hat on during the season.”

Seniors Connor Hoyt, Beau Baumgardner and Skyler Douglas will be sought to inject much of that, along with Charles Snyder, who was one of E-High’s most impactful players before being sidelined the final month of last season with an injury.

“He’s a first-team All-league player,” Welch said of his junior forward. “Teams are going to ... scheme and do things to him to slow us down. It really all starts with him and Beau. We just need those guys to play well, stay healthy and I think good things can happen to us.”

Until the team gets its rotation figured out and games get underway the first week of December, it will simply come down to working out kinks in practice.

“We’ve got a group (that knows) what it’s all about and willing to put in the work,” Welch said. “(They’ll) really pull and work with each other. (It’s something) this group really is good at and something we can build upon.”

That work will go a long way to helping the Spartans find their identity and stride as quickly as possible.

“I think the strength (of the team) should be just getting out, pushing the ball, playing solid defense,” Hoyt said. “Because I know we’ve got some guys who can get after it on the defensive end.”

“We have really high expectations ... and we’re just really excited to get the season started.”

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