OTTAWA — Two pull-it-together, scrap-out-a-win, come-from-behind victories Friday have the Ottawa Pirates right where they want to be on the final day of their own Dean Riley "Shootin' the Rock" Tournament:
Playing for the championship.
Behind a 60-58 win over Marengo earlier in the day and a 58-54 stunner Friday night over seemingly championship game-bound Oak Forest, the Ottawa Pirates punched their ticket to tonight's 5:30 p.m.title game against also 2-1 Metamora. Both teams lost their first games of the tournament Monday only to come back, win their next two and advance to the title game via the head-to-head tiebreaker.
"There's no doubt we're a work in progress," said OHS coach Mark Cooper with a chuckle, "but we're a better team now than when the week started. As much as you try to simulate things in practice, true growth takes place in a game atmosphere.
"Today we had to battle back and execute a little better down the stretch, and consequently we put ourselves in a good position Saturday. .. It was two good wins for us today."
Ottawa 58, Oak Forest 54
The Bengals came in unbeaten and seemed to be in control — albeit not complete control — for most of the night. The Pirates didn't take their first lead until Kendall Brent scored on a putback with 1:25 remaining to make it 52-51, then took the lead for good two dozen seconds later when he scored again, giving OHS a 54-52 advantage with a minute and a second remaining.
Ottawa then sank 4-of-6 free throws down the stretch to build a six-point lead and score the victory.
Rebounding — which had plagued the Pirates for most of the first three quarters — was the key to Ottawa's stretch run, and by game's end the hosts outrebounded the Bengals 34-33 in addition to winning the turnover battle.
"Rebounding's been an issue for three games, and we can't keep surviving unless we rebound the ball better," said Cooper. "We got by a couple games today. ... We got some contested rebounds late, and once again we didn't turn the ball over very much.
"Hey, if you're going to be on the negative side of the rebounding numbers, you'd better make sure you don't turn the ball over. We've been able to do that."
Kendall Brent, especially, was a beast on the boards late, scoring seven of his 12 points over the game's final 85 seconds in addition to pulling down nine rebounds for the night. Andrew Evola, too, had a key fourth-quarter putback on his way to seven points and a game-best 12 rebounds.
Myles Tucker scored 12 points, Wyatt Hill scored nine, Noah Gould put in eight points, and Joey Owens pitched in six points in Ottawa's second come-from-behind win of the day.
Jayson Kent with 16 points off the bench and Trevor Hausherr with 12 points led the Bengals, who will play for third today against Dixon.
"I felt like at a certain point the Ottawa guys just decided they were going to go at it and be more aggressive," Oak Forest coach Matt Manzke said, "and quite frankly I thought our guys backed down from that challenge. ... We had some opportunities (earlier in the game) that we needed to make a big shot or come up with a defensive play, but Ottawa hung around.
"I felt like every time we had a chance to make a stop or a shot and really put it to them, Ottawa stepped up."
Ottawa 60, Marengo 58
In the day's first tournament game, the host Pirates came out slow and were outscored 16-4 in the initial period, but poured in 25 second-quarter points to climb back into it.
The Indians held a three-point lead in the final dozen seconds before Tucker drained a game-tying 3 with 11 ticks to play and the game-winning layup just ahead of the buzzer to give Ottawa the win and keep the hosts' championship dream alive.
Tucker finished with 11 points, with Hill leading the Pirates in scoring (13 points) and assists (five). Gould also added 11 points, with Kendall Brent scoring 10, Evola finishing with eight and Russell Brent adding five.
Blaine Borhart and Aidan Kirchner scored 16 points apiece to lead the Indians, who outrebounded OHS 45-31 but lost.
At Kingman Gym, Ottawa
Ottawa 58, Oak Forest 54
(Key: FG-FGA FT-FTA TP)
OAK FOREST (54) — Liggins 2-10 0-1 4, Avilia 3-7 2-4 9, Balinao 3-10 0-0 6, Hausherr 5-8 3-6 13, Silha 1-2 0-0 2, Torres 2-2 0-0 4, Dukelow 0-0 0-0 0, Kent 7-9 0-1 16. Totals 23-48 5-12 54.
OTTAWA (58) — Tucker 4-9 3-5 12, Hill 2-13 3-4 9, Evola 1-8 5-6 7, Carson 1-2 0-0 2, Gould 2-8 3-4 8, K. Brent 4-9 4-6 12, R. Brent 1-2 0-0 2, Owens 3-6 0-0 6, Dougherty 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 18-57 18-25 58.
Oak Forest (2-1) 13 18 15 8 — 54
Ottawa (2-1) 8 15 17 18 — 58
3-point goals - OF 3-13 (Kent 2-3, Avilia 1-1, Hausherr 0-1, Liggins 0-3, Balinao 0-5); Ottawa 4-15 (Hill 2-6, Gould 1-2, Tucker 1-6, Evola 0-1). Rebounds - OF 33 (Avilia 10, Balinao 7); Ottawa 34 (Evola 12, K. Brent 9). Assists - OF 10 (four players with 2); Ottawa 9 (R. Brent 3, Owens 2). Steals - OF 4 (Hausherr 3); Ottawa 8 (Owens 3). Blocked shots - OF 2 (Hausherr 1, Balinao 1); Ottawa 2 (Tucker 1, Owens 1). Turnovers - OF 18; Ottawa 7. Total fouls (fouled out) - OF 25 (Avilia, Kent); Ottawa 14 (none).
At Kingman Gym, Ottawa
Ottawa 60, Marengo 58
(Key: FG-FGA FT-FTA TP)
OTTAWA (60) — Tucker 4-10 2-4 11, Hill 5-15 0-0 13, Evola 4-9 0-0 8, K. Brent 4-8 1-1 10, Gould 4-9 1-1 11, R. Brent 2-3 0-0 5, Carson 1-3 0-0 2, Owens 0-1 0-0 0, Dougherty 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 24-58 4-6 60.
MARENGO (58) — Borhart 7-13 1-6 16, Kirchner 5-11 3-4 16, Schirmer 3-5 3-5 10, Bertrand 3-4 0-0 6, Rodriguez 2-4 0-1 4, Fischer 1-9 2-2 4, Shambo 1-5 0-0 2, Wascher 0-2 0-0 0, LaSota 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 22-54 9-18 58.
Ottawa (1-1) 4 25 11 20 — 60
Marengo (1-1) 16 16 12 14 — 58
3-point goals - Ottawa 8-24 (Hill 3-8, Gould 2-7, K. Brent 1-1, R. Brent 1-1, Tucker 1-5, Evola 0-2); Marengo 5-20 (Kirchner 3-9, Borhart 1-1, Schirmer 1-1, Shambo 0-2, Fisher 0-7). Rebounds - Ottawa 31 (K. Brent 7, Gould 6); Marengo 45 (Rodriguez 11, Schirmer 9, Bertrand 8). Assists - Ottawa 17 (Hill 5, R. Brent 5, K. Brent 4); Marengo 10 (Borhart 4). Steals - Ottawa 10 (Hill 4); Marengo 5 (Schirmer 3). Blocked shots - Ottawa 1 (Gould 1); Marengo 1 (Schirmer 1). Turnovers - Ottawa 11; Marengo 13. Total fouls (fouled out) - Ottawa 17 (K. Brent); Marengo 13 (none).
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As the six o'clock hour was approaching, the Seneca gym began to fill up with Norsemen fans. After the ball was tossed up, the Norsemen started up right where they left off. Full-court pressure, jumping every pass, and firing away on the offensive end.
When the first eight minutes were completed, the Norsemen had a 13 point lead. Several steals, layups, and long bombs from downtown had the Newark team up 33-22 at halftime.
Coach Rick Tollefson must have had quite a conversation in the locker room as the Norsemen took their game to another level altogether, allowing only 14 total points in the second half.
"We played tough tonight," commented Tollefson. "This is going to be an interesting year." Tollefson's boys were able to score 36 more points in the game to get them a second victory, 69-36.
Dylan Patrick (Sr) had another great night, earning the SportClips Player of the Game for the second evening in a row. Patrick had 20 points, 8 steals, 4 assists, and 4 rebounds. Corey Jacobson (Jr) dropped 16 points in the game. He grabbed 8 boards, 3 steals, 2 assists, and deflected the ball 9 different times for the winning team. Brett Myre continued his shooting ways by hitting a pair of long balls and several free throws, to score 11 points this evening. Connor Swanson (Jr) and Beau Brown (Jr) both had 10 points. Swanson had 5 boards, 4 steals, and an assist. Brown, who earned the Central Limestone Rock Solid Player of the Game, had a double-double by grabbing 10 boards with 8 of them coming on the offensive end. Brown snagged 3 steals and tossed 2 dimes for good measure.
The Newark Norsemen are now 2-0 and will take on Reed Custer on Friday night at 6:00 PM for the final game of pool play.
As the 2016-17 season concluded and some future hall-of-famers ended their careers, not many people knew what to expect for the 2017-18 season. So, the Norsemen went to work in the off-season, with senior captain, Dylan Patrick, leading the way.
When they took the court in Seneca in their opening game of the year against the Trojans of Mendota, the Norsemen couldn't buy a bucket. In fact, their shooting percentage was barely above 15% after the first quarter. However, they kept shooting and they kept banging the boards on both ends, especially on the offensive end.
The Norsemen, after missing their first 15 three-point attempts, starting coming alive when junior Brett Myre caught on fire and the "BAMs" were being shouted from the rooftop at Seneca High School. After hitting two quick ones from downtown, Patrick saw an opportunity to get the junior open. He drove the ball right into the defense on the right side, turned, and got Myre wide open. Brett, who has grown nine inches during his high school career, caught the ball and fired from about 23' out...nothing but the bottom on the net! "I told him that if he shoots like that all year, we are going to be very tough to beat," Patrick commented. "Teams will need to defend us from beyond the arc, and then we can drive the hole."
Newark only had 8 points in the first quarter, but added 24 points in the second to take a 32-19 lead into the halftime locker room. The Norsemen through up an astounding 47 field goal attempts in the first half.
The second half was all Newark as the Norsemen added to their lead to end up with 72 points in the game vs Mendota's 43.
Dylan Patrick was named the SportsClip Player of the Game as he dropped 30 points in the night, hitting 2 from 3 downtown, grabbing 5 offensive boards, tossing 4 dimes, stripping 3 steals, and jumping over the 600 points in a career mark. Brett Myre and Corey Jacobson (Jr) each added 13 points. Myre had 2 blocks, while Jacobson snagged 7 boards and had 3 assists. Jacob Slivka (Jr) was named the Central Limestone Rock Solid Player of the Game for his tremendous efforts on defense, having 5 rebounds (4 offensive), 5 deflections, and 3 steals.
The Norsemen will take on the Hall Red Devils on Wednesday night at 6:00 PM. You can watch the game live on MySportsWire.
Can great run of success continue for Norsemen?
Going into last season, most of the Newark High School basketball faithful thought the loss of 1,000-point scorers Jack Clausel and Evan Schomer due to graduation might keep the Norsemen from being competitive as the year wound down into the playoffs.
Nothing could've been further from the truth, as NHS posted its second-best postseason finish in school history after capturing fourth-place at the IHSA Class 1A state finals, behind only the Norsemen's state championship benchmark that was achieved in 2011. Newark completed 2016-17 with an overall record of 28-6 and a perfect 8-0 mark in the Little Ten Conference.
Now the question is: Can the Norsemen succeed again with some fine returning talent but more major pieces lost to graduation?
Gone is four-year starter and future NHS Hall of Fame point guard Will Clausel, who ended up fifth on the Norsemen's all-time scoring list with 1,630 points. Last year he averaged 15.4 points per game along with 5.1 rebounds, 5.2 assists and 2.4 steals per contest. Cam Myre (13.8 ppg, 5.1 rpg) and Steve McGrath (10.0 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 3.7 apg, 2.5 spg) also moved onto college, while the only two starters that return this year for veteran coach Rick Tollefson (12th year, 251-89) are senior guard Dylan Patrick and junior forward Beau Brown.
"It was a very fun year last season getting fourth place at state, winning the Seneca Thanksgiving Tournament and finishing second at the Plano Christmas Classic," Tollefson said. "This year we're losing a lot of everything with those three players that all contributed big. We lost a lot of scoring and height with Cam and Willy (Clausel), and obviously Steve did everything for us.
"We're going to have to get kids to step into those big shoes if we're going to be successful again."
First and foremost is the 6-foot, 2-inch Patrick, who will take over at point guard for Will Clausel. He averaged 11.9 points last season, 4.0 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 2.2 steals per contest while also shooting a stealthy 79 percent (101 of 128) from the free-throw line.
"I feel like I'm ready to step into those big footsteps, and I feel pretty good about what we accomplished last year," Patrick said. "I think we can keep pushing that level to be even better if we continue practicing hard and play mentally tough."
Brown (6-3) also was a huge contributor as a sophomore starter last year, registering 7.9 points per game and 3.1 rebounds per contest. Along with Patrick, he moves into a primary role for the Norsemen.
"Last year was pretty special with Dylan and the seniors really helping me along playing as a sophomore," Brown said. "I'm really hoping I can step up my play this year and contribute much more than I did last season. I think it can be a very good year for us."
Joining Patrick and Brown in this season's starting lineup will be last year's sixth-man, junior guard Corey Jacobson (6-0, 4.2 ppg), junior guard Connor Swanson (5-10) and junior guard Jacob Slivka (6-0).
Forward Rhys Pepino (6-0) is the only other senior on the Newark roster besides Patrick and should see the floor along with junior guard Brett Myre (6-0) and junior guard Kevin Samion (6-0). Sophomores Jacob Chapman (5-9), Alex Tollefson (5-10) and Zak Akre (6-0) might also play into the youthful mix of talent.
"Dylan definitely has been our leader since the summer," Tollefson said. "He's a terrifically strong player, heady and understands the game very well. We'll look to him for a lot of things with Beau, Corey and a deep, up-tempo group that can get after some people.
"Hopefully, we'll be pretty good again."
No. Player Ht. Yr.
0 Rhys Pepino 6-0 Sr.
1 Jacob Slivka 6-0 Jr.
2 Dylan Patrick 6-2 Sr.
4 Corey Jacobson 6-0 Jr.
5 Brett Myre 6-0 Jr.
10 Zak Akre 6-0 So.
11 Connor Swanson 5-10 Jr.
13 Jacob Chapman 5-9 So.
15 Nate Christian 5-11 So.
20 Alex Tollefson 5-10 So.
21 Garrett Dillon 5-11 Jr.
23 Kevin Samion 6-0 Jr.
25 Beau Brown 6-3 Jr.
33 Dru Brown 6-0 Jr.
11/20-25 at Seneca Turkey Tourney TBA*
12/1 at Leland-Earlville 7 p.m.
12/5 PLANO 5:30 p.m.
12/8 at Hinckley-Big Rock 6 p.m.
12/9 at Annawan 6:30 p.m.
12/15 LAMOILLE-OHIO 7:30 p.m.
12/26-30 at Plano Classic TBD
1/5 at Serena 5:30 p.m.
1/9 at Seneca 7 p.m.
1/12 KIRKLAND HIAWATHA 5:30 p.m.
1/16 INDIAN CREEK 5:30 p.m.
1/23 at Dwight 7 p.m.
1/26 at Paw Paw 7 p.m.
1/27 at Beecher Shootout TBD
1/29-2/2 at Little Ten Tourney TBD
2/6 at Marquette 7 p.m.
2/10 at Indian Creek TBA
2/13 MOOSEHEART 7 p.m.
2/16 SOMONAUK 7 p.m.
The Ottawa Pirates are in the process of discovering their identity.
"It's the nature of having one returning player that played significant minutes (the previous season)," Pirates coach Mark Cooper said, "and you can look at it one of two ways: it's a negative because you don't have much experience returning, or we tend to look at it as a positive where we have a lot of kids pushing each other to play at a level maybe they haven't played at before."
Ottawa lost six players to Pomp and Circumstance — including all-state scoring machine and Times Player of the Year McKe Tucker — from the 2016-17 team that went 21-8 and played for a regional plaque. OHS's Class of 2017 accounted for 76.7 percent of the scoring, 79.4 percent of the rebounding, 78.7 percent of the assists, 76.2 percent of the steals and 95.7 percent of the blocked shots last season.
The lone starter back is Wyatt Hill. Kendall Brent was also in the rotation.
"If this isn't the most inexperienced team (I've had), it's right up there," said Cooper, in his 14th season at the helm of the Pirates (219-133 record — .622 winning percentage), of his 16-player roster, which consists of seven seniors, eight juniors and a sophomore, "but we're not going to use that as an excuse. You know, the expectations and the standards aren't going to change.
"There's no question we have a lot of big shoes to fill, but we had some kids that were on the sophomores or didn't play many varsity minutes last season that, you know, have been waiting their time, and they've had the level of dedication that we look for. And now it's their opportunity to play in the 7:30 game and see what type of role they can have.
"The competition level's been very good. We have a lot of kids that are fighting for minutes and positions, and it's our job as a staff to figure out the combinations to put together, which kids play the best with other kids. We have a lot of kids that we think can do some (good) things, but until we see it translate into practice and in a game, it's really hard to be able to pinpoint what we're going to be about."
One player who doesn't lack experience is the third-year varsity veteran Hill, a sharpshooting junior guard and "high-level passer" who's already got 57 games under his belt. As a 10th-grader, Hill averaged 11.8 ppg — knocking down 37.2 percent of his attempts from 3-point range (67 of 180) — 2.3 apg and 1.7 spg when he was an All-NIB 12 West Honorable Mentionee and Times All-Area Third-Team choice.
"We're putting a lot on (Wyatt's) plate, not only from a production standpoint on the floor, but a leadership position off the floor, and he's done everything we've expected and more," Cooper said. "He's a veteran piece that we have, and he's going to have to be a stabilizing force on the floor for us with so many inexperienced parts around him. And his game has really started to develop to where he puts a lot of pressure on the defense when he has the ball. So we're expecting to see a better version of Wyatt Hill this season."
The other 12th-graders besides Kendall Brent are Russell Brent, Luke Dougherty, Andrew Evola, Josh Jackson, Joey Owens and Slaten Swords. Other juniors are Tyler Carson, Noah Gould, Kyle Haerle, Keegan Landers, Aaron Koch, Ben Lundy and Alex Stevenson.
The roster also includes talented 10th-grader Myles Tucker, McKe's brother.
"Myles has a very high level of ability," Cooper said, "and now it's just a matter of getting him acclimated to varsity basketball and getting him to be able to do that on a daily basis ... but the skill set is there."
The '17-18 Pirates put forth the effort during the offseason to try and maintain the program's recent level of success this winter.
"They've taken the challenge of wanting to have a quality basketball team this season," Cooper said, "and now it's just a matter of being able to put all the pieces together to see if we can have some level of success.
"We're just kind of curious to see how this team evolves."
No. Player Ht. Yr.
2 Joey Owens 6-2 Sr.
3 Russell Brent 5-10 Sr.
4 Myles Tucker 6-0 So.
5 Kyle Haerle 6-0 Jr.
10 Wyatt Hill 5-10 Jr.
11 Ben Lundy 5-10 Jr.
12 Kendall Brent 5-11 Sr.
20 Luke Dougherty 6-0 Sr.
23 Andrew Evola 6-2 Sr.
24 Alex Stevenson 6-3 Jr.
25 Tyler Carson 6-3 Jr.
30 Noah Gould 6-3 Jr.
32 Keegan Landers 6-2 Jr.
33 Aaron Koch 6-5 Jr.
34 Josh Jackson 6-0 Sr.
40 Slaten Swords 6-0 Sr.
Date Opponent/Event Time
11/20-25 DEAN RILEY TRNY. TBA
12/1 at Rochelle 7 p.m.
12/2 ROCK ISLAND 6 p.m.
12/8 SYCAMORE 7 p.m.
12/12 at Sterling 7 p.m.
12/26-30 at Plano Trny. TBD
1/5 at Morris 7 p.m.
1/13 at Moline 6:30 p.m.
1/19 GENESEO 7 p.m.
1/23 at Yorkville 7 p.m.
1/26 ROCHELLE 7 p.m.
1/27 at Kaneland 6 p.m.
1/30 SANDWICH 7 p.m.
2/2 at La Salle-Peru 7 p.m.
2/6 YORKVILLE CHRISTIAN 7 p.m.
2/9 STERLING 7 p.m.
2/13 DEKALB 7 p.m.
2/16 at Geneseo 7 p.m.
2/20 STREATOR 7 p.m.
2/23 LA SALLE-PERU 7 p.m.
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Here is The 2017-18 Times Preseason All-Area Boys Basketball Team, as voted on earlier this week by The Times Sports staff:
Jeremy Durdan (Jr., Flanagan-Cornell)
Wyatt Hill (Jr., Ottawa)
Dylan Patrick (Sr., Newark)
Jimmy Braddish (Jr., Sandwich)
Kyle Voytko (Jr., Woodland)
Jakob Setchell (Jr., Serena)
Jack Snook (Jr., Marquette)
Collin Hjerpe (Jr., Woodland)
Mitch Vickers (Sr., Streator)
Derek May (Jr., Fieldcrest)
Cam Grandy (Sr., Fieldcrest)
Dawson Fuller (Sr., Serena)
Wes Jolly (Sr., Streator)
Sam Grushkin (Jr., Seneca)
Beau Brown (Jr., Newark)
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The briefest of glances at the schedule which runs alongside this season preview will reveal the Streator Bulldogs' 2017-18 boys basketball season will get underway next week in Ottawa's Dean Riley "Shootin' the Rock" Tournament.
A look at the roster or a few moments spent talking with ninth-year head coach Beau Doty (116-111 career record) will reveal, however, that the success of the 2017-18 Bulldogs starts with the seniors — most notably returning starters Wes Jolly, John Benckendorf, Mitch Vickers and Joey Byers along with fellow 12th-grader and likely fifth starter this year Noah Mascal.
"We're really leaning on our veteran group," said Doty, whose Bulldogs last winter posted a winning, albeit at times frustrating 16-12 mark. "We've got six seniors who have had some varsity experience since their sophomore year, and three guys who have been starters on and off since their sophomore year.
"We're really looking to those guys for leadership, to establish an edge and a tone of competitiveness at practice each and every day and to show those juniors who are getting that varsity experience for the first time how to go about it. That's something we're counting on our seniors to do, and hopefully they can deliver on that for us."
The Bulldogs' all-senior starting five comes in with plenty of experience and talent as it looks to fill the shoes of three standouts — D'Angelo Pryor, Dakota Limberg and Adam Brown — gone to Pomp and Circumstance.
Vickers (8.7 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 1.2 spg in 2016-17) can handle the ball and create good looks at the basket seemingly at will; Byers (3.1 ppg, 1.7 rpg) is a versatile, high-energy sparkplug; Benckendorf (5.6 ppg, 1.8 rpg, 1.9 apg) brings both muscle to the paint and a good if streaky shooting touch to the perimeter; all indications are the 6-4 Jolly (3.4 ppg, 2.5 rpg) is poised for a breakout senior season; and Noah Mascal (1.5 ppg, 1.0 rpg), also standing 6-4, seems ready for a starting nod after appearing in 22 games last season.
After a couple seasons filled with ups and downs, Doty expects this group's play — through experience and offseason work — to be more steady its last go-round in the Red and White, especially with potentially potent weapons both inside and out.
"It should be a group that's pretty consistent," he said. "This is one of our bigger teams as far as size goes with lineups we can potentially put out there with both size and strength. I think that'll be one of our strengths, playing through the interior a little bit, and I think we could be a load for some teams on the boards. ...
"You complement that with Joey's ability to slash and get in the paint, Mitch being one of the better guards in the league with great athleticism and anticipation on defense and the ability to get hot on the perimeter or get in the lane and finish, and Johnny's knack for offensive boards and (ability to shoot) the 3."
With the first five all but set, the rest of the roster — which includes seniors Hunter Telford (1.1 ppg last season), Coltin Grace (0.8 ppg), Jared Groesbeck and Kyle Cantrell as well as 11th-graders Logan Colter, Grant Mascal, Chase Ramon, Terrence Jordan and Ruben Diaz — is competing for roles and floor time. That process has made practices this preseason interesting, and according to Doty could prove to be the key to the Bulldogs' season.
"Hopefully we can get some other guys to help contribute and increase our depth," said Doty. "We know what we've got with our returning guys. It's just a matter of how deep we'll be able to go, and I think that's part of the reason practices have been so competitive."
After the tournament in Ottawa, highlights on SHS's schedule include the December 2 Pops Dale Gymnsium opener against Putnam County, the Plano Christmas Classic December 26-30, home against La Salle-Peru on January 9 and a visit to another old NCIC rival, Ottawa, on February 20.
"I told our kids, our goals haven't changed from what they've been the last few years," Doty said. "That's to compete for a conference title, win 20 games and put ourselves in a position with a good seed to compete for a regional championship."
No. Player Pos. Ht. Yr.
1 Logan Colter G 6-0 Jr.
2 Kyle Cantrell G 5-10 Sr.
3 Mitch Vickers G 6-1 Sr.
4 Joey Byers G/F 6-2 Sr.
5 Ruben Diaz G 5-8 Jr.
10 John Benckendorf F 6-2 Sr.
12 Jared Groesbeck F 6-0 Sr.
13 Hunter Telford G 5-8 Sr.
20 Terrence Jordan G 5-11 Jr.
21 Coltin Grace F/C 6-4 Sr.
22 Noah Mascal F 6-4 Sr.
24 Chase Ramon G 6-1 Jr.
33 Wes Jolly C 6-4 Sr.
55 Grant Mascal F/C 6-4 Jr.
Date Opponent/Event Time
11/20-25 at Ottawa Riley Tourney TBA*
12/1 at Seneca 7 p.m.
12/2 PUTNAM CO. 6 p.m.
12/5 at Morris 7 p.m.
12/8 MANTENO 7 p.m.
12/15 at Reed-Custer 7 p.m.
12/26-30 at Plano Classic TBD
1/5 LISLE 7 p.m.
1/9 LA SALLE-PERU 7 p.m.
1/12 at Herscher 7 p.m.
1/13 ST. BEDE 6:30 p.m.
1/16 WILMINGTON 7 p.m.
1/19-26 at I-8 Tourney (Coal City) TBD
2/2 PLANO 7 p.m.
2/6 WESTMONT 7 p.m.
2/9 at Peotone 7 p.m.
2/16 at Sandwich 7 p.m.
2/20 at Ottawa 7 p.m.
2/23 at Coal City 7 p.m.
* Thanksgiving schedules
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Top newcomers: Juniors Adam Finstein (G, 5-9), Braden Seyller (G, 6-0); Sophomore Josh Hudgens (F, 6-4)
Outlook: Experienced, talented and deep, the Rockets are pointed skyward once more. Central returns 12 players from last year's Kishwaukee River Conference championship team, which lost to Glenbard South in a regional final for the second straight season. Leading the way is senior guard Zach Schutta, entering his fourth varsity season. The two-time all-area pick surpassed 1,000 points last February. He averaged 15.2 points, 5.8 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.8 assists as a junior. Senior forward Patrick Mayfield (5.7 ppg, 2.1 rpg) has nonstop energy, coach Brett Porto said. He's 6-4 and growing. They are joined in the starting lineup by senior guard Michael Kalusa (9.3 ppg, 3 rpg, 2 apg), senior forward Caden Scott (2.1 ppg) and senior point guard Desjani Beamon (3.4 ppg, 1.8 rpg). Beamon backed up TaVontae Harris last year. He and Kalusa can both handle the ball. Senior Will Hough averaged 1.9 points and 1.9 rebounds last year. Juniors Logan Andersen and Kyle Moring and sophomores Jake Lenschow and Matt Muetterties take on expanded roles after limited varsity minutes last year. "I feel like we have a lot coming back," Central coach Brett Porto said. "We don't have a lot of height, but we have all-around length. I can put four or five guys on the floor at a time who are all between 6-1 and 6-4. We'll go with the formula that's been working for us, which is be good on the defensive end and play team basketball on the offensive end. It's a hungry group. If they continue to work and try to better, they could do some nice things."
We had quite a phenomenal season last year, ending with a state tournament run, grabbing a large 4th place trophy in Peoria. It was a tremendous ride and I enjoyed my seat to watch the players excel so much. Good luck to our last year's seniors as they continue their work in life, school, and athletics.
This year we are excited to have a couple of starters back and a whole lot of tremendous athletes to join them. Dylan Patrick (Sr) has already accumulated well over 500 points in his career and is looking forward to a strong senior run. He averaged 11.9 points per game, 79% from the charity stripe, over 50% from inside the arc, 4 boards, 3.1 assists, and over 2 steals a game. Patrick is joined by now varsity veteran starter, Beau Brown (Jr). Big Beau Brown had 11 points as a freshman and came out huge his sophomore year as the big man for the Newark State team, averaging 7.9 points per game (269 points). He shot an amazing 60% from inside the arc, 81% from the free throw line, and grabbed over 3 rebounds in every game. Rhys Pepino is the other senior on the team and looks to contribute in great ways with his hustle, enthusiasm, and grit. Corey Jacobson (Jr) was the sixth man of last year's team as a sophomore and poured in almost 150 points off the bench for the state team and grabbed over 2 boards a game. Jacobson played in all 34 games for the Norsemen last year and looks to be a big part of the 2017-18 team. Connor Swanson (Jr) is the only other player that had significant time on the varsity last year, playing in 23 of the games throughout the season. Connor looks to have a break-out varsity season this year. Others athletes on the Norsemen squad include juniors: Brett Myre (6'0"), Jacob Slivka (6'0"), and Kevin Samion (6'0") and sophomores pulling double duty on JR and Varsity: Zak Akre (6'0"), Jacob Chapman (5'9"), Nate Christian (5'11"), and Alex Tollefson (5'10").
NEW WEBSITE PROMOTING THE KIDS
The tagline for the new website and for our broadcasting purpose is, "It's for the kids!" That is why we as parents work so hard to encourage, love, and promote our student-athletes. We know that the lessons that they have and will learn through their experiences as a teammate and competitor will shape their lives forever. We love being a part of that! So, with that in mind, I have created a website that will paint a broader brush than just the Newark Norsemen. As you all know, I absolutely love Newark and bleed blue. However, I have been given the opportunity and privilege to broadcast all 40 games in the main gym at the Plano Christmas Classic and that will cover a significant amount of teams. In addition, I am adding a portion of the website dedicated to all of the schools in the Little 10. It will be a work in progress, but I hope to be expanding the website and information in order to help our high school kids get promoted to the next level (both in life and in sports' opportunities). There is a simple link on the homepage to access the Newark Norsemen Basketball page, and thus be able to watch all of the broadcasts.
Check it out: www.MySportsWire.com
If you are interested in sponsoring MySportsWire, you may contact Phil below.
Phil Chapman is an avid basketball fan that has served as the voice of the Newark Norsemen over the last three seasons. Phil will be broadcasting the games at the Plano Christmas Classic