Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

A Leunk to the Past | Bradenton Christian Senior Guard Ryan Leunk Looks to Shoot the Panthers Back to the State Final Four

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

A Leunk to the Past | Bradenton Christian Senior Guard Ryan Leunk Looks to Shoot the Panthers Back to the State Final Four

Article excerpt

FEATURED SPORT: BOYS BASKETBALL

BRADENTON -- Similar to many students enrolled at Bradenton Christian, Ryan Leunk is a lifer, having attended the small private school off 43rd Street West since he was in kindergarten.

So he knows all about the rich heritage of the school's boys basketball program. And if Leunk ever forgets, all he has to do is walk inside the gym and take a look up at the banners, which tout the Panthers' Class 1A runner-up finish in 1997 and their string of four state semifinal appearances during the mid-to-late 2000s.

Now a senior, Leunk is looking to craft his own legacy. Just check out how he spent the offseason: Playing AAU ball for the first time with the Bay City Ballers out of Sarasota. Leunk and six of his BCS teammates helped the travel team take third over the summer during the 17-Under national championships in Louisville.

"Our season ended Feb. 12. Travel ball started Feb. 13," Leunk said. "I think it's honestly because I thought we could do something special this year. I was looking forward to next school season already."

Such dedication comes as no surprise to Scott Townsend, now in his fifth season as BCS' head coach and 15th with the program overall. Townsend has seen Leunk stay 45 minutes after practice to work on his shot, which is how he transitioned from a center to a shooting guard who eclipsed the 1,000-point plateau during the Panthers' regular-season opener.

"He just has a really high motor," Townsend said. "He just outworks everybody."

Leunk didn't score much as a freshman because the Panthers were a small team that needed someone to stay inside and grab rebounds. Leunk has 643 of them for his career.

But when J.T. Noellert, a 6-foot-8 center, moved into the area toward the end 2014 school year, it supplied the Panthers with the height they had been lacking and allowed Leunk to transition to guard. …

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