Posted Online: Nov. 21, 2012, 9:48 pm
Flying Geese shooting high in 2012-13 LTC boys' hoops race
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By Terry Duckett, firstname.lastname@example.org
It took the Galva Wildcats to keep Wethersfield from soaring above the rest in the 2011-12 Lincoln Trail Conference boys' basketball race.
After topping the Flying Geese (18-14) both in the regular-season standings and in the finals of the LTC Tournament, the Wildcats (22-6) are in retooling mode this year, while Coach Jeff Parsons' Wethersfield cagers are primed to take that next step.
The Geese return junior guard and first team All-LTC standout Trevor Lay (10 points, 4 assists per game) alongside a nucleus of five seniors that includes senior forward Javonte Hollowell (7 points, 5 rebounds). That group will be needed to offset thegraduation of 6-foot-6 center Devin DeClercq and his 10 points and seven boards a night.
Plus, the run to the Class 2A quarterfinals enjoyed by the Annawan-Wethersfield football co-op has spilled over into early-season basketball preparations, but that's something Parsons isn't too worried about as he enters his 10th year with the Geese.
"I know my teams," he stated. "We don't usually play well early, but we play our best basketball by the end of the year. We have gotten off to a late start, but it's a good thing, being part of that football run. These kids have been a part of the football quarterfinals and the sectionals in baseball, and most of them played (basketball) for us last year.
"The kids we have moving up, they went 20-6 and won the frosh-soph LTC title last year even without Trevor, who was with us on the varsity. These guys have been winners up and down, and I think we have a chance to be in the upper tier of the LTC."
As for Galva, third-year coach Chance Jones has to replace his entire starting five, a quintet that was led by 6-6 forward Kile Mott's 14 points and nine rebounds per game. Only junior point guard Dexter Ingels got any substantial playing time last winter as the 'Cats went 9-1 to top Wethersfield by a game for first place.
"All of the guys we have back practiced with us, but we were a senior-dominated team, so it was rough for them to get much playing time," said Jones. "But these guys have a strong work ethic, and we want to build off of that."
Also looking to both build off a strong work ethic and catch up after a lengthy football run is Mercer County (9-20), which does have to replace its top scorer, Colton Wood (19 points, 6 rebounds). But with senior guard Tanner Matlick back from injury, the Golden Eagles hope to fly right into the thick of the LTC race in 2012-13.
"Wethersfield has most everyone back, but I like our chances," said Mercer County coach Brian Hutton. "Obviously, we have a couple of kids in Tanner and Tyson (Nylin) who need to get touches, and Darrin (Harrison) is able to light it up from beyond the arc. We serve ourselves best with balanced scoring, but our big problem — same as last year — is not having a lot of size."
Annawan (8-22) has its fourth head coach since Ryan Brown left for Sterling following the Braves' run to fourth place in the 2009 Class 1A state tournament. Former Tuscola assistant Brandon Christy inherits a club loaded with both experience and potential.
The Braves returna pair of 10 points-per-game scorers in senior guards Tony Gripp and Grant Baele, alongside senior forward Michael Smith (8 points, 8 rebounds).
"Our senior leaders should definitely step up and have a good year," said Christy. "A new system, and not having a lot of practice time to work with the kids, is a concern of ours."
Having slipped to a 5-22 finish last year, United also has to replace its entire starting lineup, a quintet that was led by guard Jake Gavin's 13 points per game. "You can't simulate game experience in practice, so we have to learn through the fire," said Red Storm coach Jim Noonan.
Ridgewood looks to put last winter's 1-27 finish behind it as the Spartans return three starters led by senior guard Elisha McCreary (10 points per game). "We're going to look to spread the court on offense, and slow things up for our opposition," said Ridgewood coach Casey Adamson.
LINCOLN TRAIL CONFERENCE BOYS' BASKETBALL CAPSULES
Coach: Brandon Christy (first year).
2011-12: 8-22 (4-6 LTC); lost 52-46 to Wethersfield in the first round of the Class 1A Abingdon Regional.
Returning letterwinners — Srs.: Tony Gripp (5-9 G), Austin Bitting (6-3 G/F), Donovan Kirkhove (6-6 C), Grant Baele (6-1 G), Michael Smith (6-2 F), Tacho Marquez (6-1 G), De'Angelo Washington (5-9 G). Jrs.: Ben Foster (6-3 F), Micam Smith (6-0 G).
Coach: Chance Jones (third year).
2011-12: 22-6 (9-1 LTC, 1st place); lost 46-42 to Wethersfield in the Class 1A Abingdon Regional semifinals.
Returning letterwinners — Srs.: Connor King (6-0 F), Reece Hoxworth (6-2 G/F). Jrs.: Dexter Ingels (5-11 G), David Jeffries (6-0 G).
Newcomers — Jrs.: Rhett Hoxworth (5-11 G), Caleb Rux (5-11 G), Trevor Melton (6-0 F).
Mercer County Golden Eagles
Coach: Brian Hutton (fourth year).
2011-12: 9-20 (3-7 LTC); lost 60-38 to Orion in the first round of the Class 2A Orion Regional.
Returning letterwinners — Srs.: Tanner Matlick (6-3 F), Zach Aldinger (5-9 G), Noah Louck (5-9 G), Darrin Harrison (5-7 G), Brett Bieri (5-7 G), Brad Sabel (6-3 C). Jr.: Tyson Nylin (5-10 G).
Newcomers — Sr.: Blake Patterson (6-2 F). Jrs.: Brandon Butcher (6-4 F), Trenton Higgins (6-0 F), Cole Peterson (6-2 F).
Coach: Casey Adamson (second year).
2011-12: 1-27 (1-9 LTC); lost 75-43 to Monmouth-Roseville in the first round of the Class 2A Orion Regional.
Returning letterwinners — Srs.: James Brooks (5-10 G), Elisha McCreary (5-8 G). Jrs.: Andrew Steider (5-11 G), Blayne Street (5-8 G). Soph.: Ridge Greenman (5-8 G), Sam Bolthaus (6-6 C).
Newcomers — Srs.: Jacob Peterson (5-8 G), Vince Lundeen (6-4 C). Jrs.: Derek Larson (5-8 G), Keegan Smith (6-2 F), Nate Berg (5-9 F), Chris Bowles (5-10 G). Soph.: Nate Humphrey (5-8 G), Joey Lambin (5-8 G).
United Red Storm
Coach: Jim Noonan (sixth year).
2011-12: 5-22 (3-7 LTC); lost 38-25 to ROWVA in the first round of the Class 1A Abingdon Regional.
Returning letterwinners — Srs.: Isaac Taber (6-1 G), Cortland Walters (6-2 C), Grant Schrock (6-0 F), Preston Snyder (6-1 F).
Newcomers — Sr.: Danton McMullin (6-3 C). Jrs.: Lance Sperry (6-2 G), Riley Whitsitt (5-7 G).
Wethersfield Flying Geese
Coach: Jeff Parsons (10th year).
2011-12: 18-14 (8-2 LTC); lost 46-38 to Abingdon in the Class 1A Abingdon Regional finals.
Returning letterwinners — Srs.: Tyler Litton (6-0 G), Javonte Hollowell (6-1 F), Trey Hannam (6-3 F), Cody Phillips (5-10 G), Zach VanWassenhove (6-3 F). Jr.: Trevor Lay (5-11 G).
Newcomers — Sr.: Kegan Jacobson (6-1 F). Jrs.: Matt Jenkins (6-4 C), Jake Bennett (5-8 G), Blake Vincent (6-1 F), Julian Harris (6-0 F), J.P. Lewis (5-8 G), Ryan Reeves (5-7 G).