Basketball

Senior Zech Todd goes up for a layup during practice Nov. 27 in Sweitzer Gym.

BOB KENNEDY

Zech Todd is 6-foot-8, plays center, wears a headband, and has red hair and a red beard.

Most of the attributes are natural, but he admits he can come off as a Bill Walton look-alike. He also wouldn’t mind being a Bill Walton play-alike during his senior year of Cody basketball.

The Hall of Fame star of the 1970s and 1980s is a colorful television personality, but a worthwhile post player to emulate on the court.

“I’m so excited to see what it brings,” Todd said of the Broncs’ 2017-18 season that begins this weekend with the hosting of the East-West Classic.

Cody is loaded with experienced players in the front court. Todd will often be flanked by Reece Andre, twins Cooper and Keegan Brown or Peter Klessens. That group should pretty much control the boards.

“The sky’s the limit,” Todd said. “We have a lot of talent.”

Coach Jacob Kraft said the Broncs will be fortified by players moving up from the junior varsity, but also an unexpected addition to the team.

Elijah Leyva of Worland has moved to Cody and looms as an important new face.

“He moved here in July,” Kraft said of the swift point guard.

The Broncs did play some summer league games and worked out on their own in open gyms, but the Browns played for the Cody Legion state championship baseball team, and Andre and Klessens competed for the state champion football team, so their off-season work was limited.

“It was difficult to get our guys together in the off-season,” Kraft said. “I think our chemistry is going to be one of our assets. Like any team, if we can stay healthy and gain some momentum through the season, we can be in the mix.”

Kraft and the players believe they can improve on last season’s 13-10 record (12-8 regular season).

“If we’re going to beat anybody, we’ve got to limit our turnovers and make good decisions with the ball,” Kraft said.

Keegan Brown foresees this being a very strong defensive group and one that will be opportunisticabout the fast break.

“We’ll be pushing the ball,” he said. “It’s going to be a good year. We’ve got a lot of experience. We have a lot of seniors.”

The Browns are 6-footers and Todd, with his 240 pounds, is a space eater difficult to cover. Andre is 6-5 and has the leaping ability of the high jumper he is in spring track.

“I think our physicality will be up there,” Cooper Brown said. He added the team should excel at rebounding “big-time.”

Having played against Leyva last year and playing with him over the last couple of weeks, Cooper thinks “he will help a lot.”

This is a team Kraft pictures having good chemistry, but also thinks another intangible could help.

“I think the kids were excited the way the football team finished up,” Kraft said. “Cody High School is riding a pretty good wave.”

One guy who was on neither the baseball team nor the football team was Todd. He was strictly basketball over the summer and fall.

Mature seniors and game experience will aid the Broncs, he said.

“I think it’s going to help when we’re trying to lead the team,” Todd said. “We have situational awareness. We know how to play together.”

The connection to Bill Walton may be more obvious because of the red hair, beard and position played, but Todd joked he could change things up by growing out his neatly trimmed beard to mimic James Harden’s.

The NBA All-Star has the bushiest beard in the pros and in recent seasons has been followed by the phrase “Fear the Beard.”

“Maybe I’ll go James Harden,” Todd said. “Fear the beard.”

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