A pair of first-year coaches will square off tonight when the Crook County Cowboys play host to the Henley Hornets.
>Crook County to open season against highly ranked Henley
The similarities between the two squads, however, don't extend much further.
While this is Jeff Lowenbach's first season with the Crook County program, it is Jack Lee's sixth with Henley. Lee served five years of tutelage under longtime skipper Jess Schefstrom before being named to the top spot this season.
Lee's Hornets return four senior letterwinners and consider size one of their main strengths. The Cowboys, on the other hand, lack overall height and will rely on their shooting abilities and speed to try to pull off a win over the Hornets.
"It will probably go both ways," Lowenbach said. "I hope we are able to run it down the floor and tire those big guys out."
As they ready themselves for league play, the Cowboys will have their hands full against Henley, who boast a top ten 3A ranking. They are led by returning post players Skylar Morgan and Roger Nonella and point guard Joel Matchett. The Cowboys' returning starters include Rory Priday, Thomas McCarthy and Kyle Huntley.
"I hear they are pretty talented," Lowenbach said. "Any of those top 3A teams can hold their own against the 4A schools."
The Cowboys will be especially tested as several of their key players will be missing part or all of the game.
"We are by no means going to be at full power," Lowenbach said. "For a whole bunch of different reasons."
Lowenbach refused to comment much further on the situation but added that some players will be out several games due to disciplinary problems.
After weeks of practicing against themselves, Lowenbach said he and his team are ready to finally put their hard work into play.
"Our guys are sick of playing each other," he said. "They are excited to see where they stand against a team with another color jersey. Our goal is to establish our style of play and use it as a barometer to see where we are right now."
Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. at the Crook County High School gymnasium.