The Indians boys varsity basketball team opens their season tonight at Fairfield.

OSKALOOSA—The Oskaloosa Indians boys varsity basketball team is ready to defend their title. As their new season begins, the target on their backs has never been bigger, as they come off a state championship last season.

Head coach Ryan Parker plans to have his team ready and he is anxious to get started.

“We’ll need to be ready each and every night”, said Parker. “This years team will have some familiar faces, but also some new ones sprinkled in as well, and our expectations do not change from years past.”

The Indians lose some key players from last year’s team, including three starters. 6’10’’ Cole Henry was a team leader who was a force to be reckoned with around the basket, along with his ability to handle the ball. Rian Yates is a four-year varsity player who was rock solid the past few years. Austin Hafner was a very skilled shooter who could stretch the floor on any given night. The Indians will miss each of those graduates from last year’s campaign.

On the other hand, Oskaloosa does return some key contributors as well. 7’0’’ Xavier Foster is a special talent who has a skill set that not many players possess. He can stetch the floor with his shooting, but he also dominates the paint on both ends.

Iszac Schultz hit two of the biggest free throws of his life last year late to seal the Indians’ state championship. He brings a ton of experience and is as good an on-the-ball defender as you will find. Noah Van Veldhuizen started 19 games his junior season and shot the ball from the arc extremely well. Colton Butler comes into his senior year not getting major varsity playing time, but he’s a three-year varsity player who has faced Cole and Xavier night in and night out in practice.

The Indians will rely heavily on those four seniors this season. Along with those four, fans should see four sophomores playing along with them and getting considerable playing time: Will Schultz, Keaton Flaherty, David Nelson and Darryl Fane.

Parker said the team’s goals remain the same as they’ve been previous seasons: compete each and every night, play in the Conference Championship game, compete at State and win a State Championship.

The Indians play their first game at 7:45 p.m. tonight at Fairfield.

Herald sports writer Richard Rindt can be reached at or follow on Twitter @osky_sports

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