CHURCHILL — This year, the Manhattan Christian boys basketball team has the chance to achieve a three-peat by taking home their third Class C state championship in a row.
The Eagles are undefeated so far this season, staying focused on the day-to-day work through their team philosophy.
"I think it starts with the coaches being present and working hard and leaving in that aspect," Manhattan Christian coach Layne Glaus said. "And then having a player-led team. (The upperclassmen) have showed up and worked hard and done so when it’s not easy, so that’s a good sign for us."
Coming out of the winter break back to the in-season grind can prove challenging, but this team leans on one another to keep the spirits high every day.
"We have to bring our own energy every day, and our coaches are great too," junior guard Jack Scott said. "They motivate us and hold us to a high standard, which is great for us."
The team takes it game by game as it enters into the full swing of conference play, leading up to the ultimate goal on the court.
"We want to get to state of course. Try to stay undefeated, that’s one of our goals always," Scott said.
To achieve those goals, the Eagles have to continue their elite level of play on the hardwood.
"I think we have a lot of guys that can attack the hoop," junior guard Carter Van Dyken said. "We’re really lengthy and athletic at the same time. That’s nice, so we can get out on teams running the break."
This fall, Glaus spent time at Virginia learning from an NCAA national championship-winning head coach in Tony Bennett.
He learned more about the keys of the high-caliber defensive philosophy, but what was most inspiring was how the program was run outside of the Xs and Os.
"We started talking about the pillars of his program: humility, passion, thankfulness, unity," Glaus explained. "He talked about that as something kids can take with them as they leave the program, and it has an eternal impact on them, rather than, you know, we’re getting wins as a program right now. So, seeing a coach at that level, that’s had success at that level, have a focus there, that was inspiring to me."
And the players have bought into that mindset as they continue into the regular season.
"I think humility and servant-hood," Van Dyken explained of the team's identity this season. "None of us, it doesn’t matter who scores. We just all want to get each other scoring and good looks."