Edgerton boys targeted as Rock Valley favorites
Edgerton High in a class by itself?
John Pelock, the dean of Rock Valley boys basketball coaches, says so as the Beloit Turner veteran reviews the conference’s preseason prospects.
But hold on just a minute, says Edgerton’s Mark Wanless, who also has been around quite awhile and learned to take nothing for granted.
Wanless acknowledges that his Crimson Tide, which returns everybody from its 14-8 team of a year ago and is off a 2-0 start in nonconference action, should be solid. But there are other factors to consider, he said.
“We’ve got good, experienced, hard-working kids,’’ he said, “but the key to our season is being healthy.’’
Wanless can speak from experience on that. His team went into last season without 6-4 sophomore standout Bryan Gregory, who was sidelined with mononucleosis, and the Tide didn’t get rolling until after it had two of its four conference losses.
This season, Edgerton is without 6-3 senior veteran Travis Towns, who is out indefinitely with a thigh injury from football. Joe Kronforst, a fourth-year starter in the backcourt, also has had an on-and-off knee problem, Wanless said, after missing some key games last season with a back ailment.
“Not having Towns has hurt us a lot,” Wanless said, “and we just don’t know where we stand with that. We just have to look at one game at a time.’’
Meanwhile, two-time defending champion Evansville has no intention of giving up its title without a fight. The Blue Devils, who won 31 straight conference games, graduated all their starters except junior All-Rock Valley standout Andrew Keister but have made a smooth transition from last year’s 19-2 season.
“We’ve scouted Evansville, and they look a lot like their past teams—very sound,’’ Wanless said after the Blue Devils’ two impressive nonconference wins.
What’s more, Evansville coach Chris Wagner has made the Blue Devils’ intentions abundantly clear.
“Absolutely contend!” he emphasized.
“We need to continue to play with the kind of sense about us that we can be that good if continue to work at it,” Wagner said. “Right now, it’s a case of the meshing the senior quality with the juniors, and we’re going to keep getting better.’’
Orfordville Parkview, everybody’s choice as a third contender, may be at its best since barely falling short of the championship in 2003. The Vikings, under first-year coach Paul Saevre, have a solid lineup featuring 6-5 junior Alex Mumm on the inside and quick sophomore point guard Nick Melton, already with a year of varsity starting experience.
“We saw Orfordville all summer, and those are very good players,’’ Wanless said.
But the way Pelock sees it, it all comes back to the Edgerton players. They include Gregory at center, Kronforst in the backcourt and 6-3 senior forward Derek Carrier—all first-team all-conference selections last season.
“Edgerton is in a whole different league,’’ Pelock said. “They’ve got all their starters back, and they’re all good players.’’
Rock Valley teams won’t waste any time determining that on the court. Evansville hosts Parkview in a key conference opener tonight. The Blue Devils visit Edgerton next week, and Parkview plays at Edgerton in the third round of games.
With tip-off time at hand, here’s how things looks:
Head coach: John Pelock, 23rd year (207-267).
2006-07 record: 8-13 overall, 7-7 in Rock Valley (fifth place).
Last conference title: 2001-02.
Key losses: Jeff Neblock, averaged 9 points per game, received all-conference honor mention; Derek Jones.
Returning starters: Jaron Bertelsen, 5-10, sr., guard (10 points per game, all-conference honorable mention); Tyler Trepnow, 6-1, sr., forward (10 ppg, 6 rebounds per game).
Other lettermen: Jacob Traeger, 5-8, sr., guard; Mike Jacobs, 5-11, jr., guard/forward.
Other likely contributors: Reggie Cassimere, 5-11, sr., guard/forward; Aaron Jones, 6-3, soph., forward/center; Kasey Hallmark, 5-9, jr., guard/forward; Jordan Conway, 6-3, soph., forward/center.
Season outlook: Turner was picked for last place a year ago and finished a solid fifth, one game out of the first division. The Trojans again could be a surprise team, with their sights set on at least fourth place.
“I don’t think I’ve had a group in 15 years with chemistry like this,” Pelock said. “I really like the mix and the way the kids help each other out.”
Head coach: Brian Kammerer, first year (2-0).
2006-07 record: 4-17 overall, 1-13 in Rock Valley (tied for seventh place).
Last conference title: 2004-05.
Key losses: Andy Licht, averaged 13.2 points a game and was a conference first-team selection; Brenton Nelson, averaged 6.4 points.
Returning starters: Andy Swain, 6-0, sr., guard forward (6.3 points per game); Ryan Miller, 6-0, jr., guard (4.5 ppg); Jaimie Pierson, 5-10, sr., guard (4.3 ppg).
Other lettermen: Caleb Frost, 6-0, sr., forward; Trenton Klein, 5-7, sr., guard; Travis Jacobson, 6-3, sr., center; Jimmy Covert, 5-10, sr., guard.
Other likely contributor: Alex Woelky, 6-4, sr., forward.
Season outlook: After struggling much of last season, the Cardinals have built early confidence with two nonconference victories. Their key is making up for the loss of Licht, last year’s go-to guy. Pierson filled that role nicely Tuesday, making nine of 10 free throws in the fourth and scoring 22 points in a 70-66 win over Monticello. Swain also contributed 16 points.
“Our strength may be plenty of equal ability levels,” Kammer said. “We can go deep in our bench and not drop the level of our play.”
Head coach: Denny Morris, second year (8-17).
2006-07 record: 8-15 overall, 4-10 in Rock Valley (sixth place).
Last conference title: 1995-96.
Key losses: Jordan Cerneck, averaged 7.2 points and 6.5 rebounds a game; Cody Williams, averaged 6.8 points.
Returning starters: Keifer Cary, 6-5, sr., forward (10.5 points per game, 5.4 rebounds); Nick Risseeuw, 6-2, sr., guard/forward (4.6 ppg, 3.8 rpg).
Other lettermen: Grant Oldenburg, 6-0, sr. (6.7 ppg); Logan Krebs, 6-2, sr., forward (7 ppg, 5.7 rpg); Alex Morton, 6-6, sr., center; Andy Eliszewski, 6-0, sr., guard.
Other likely contributors: Austin DeLong, 6-2, jr., forward; Justin Gunderson, 6-0, jr., guard; Joel Nickel, 6-2, jr., center; Mike Mulligan, 5-11, jr., guard; Anthony Crivello, 5-11, jr., guard/forward.
Season outlook: Clinton returns one of the conference’s top-rated players in Cary, but they’ve been hurt by the early absence of Risseeuw, who is recovering from knee surgery. Morris would like the Cougars to be an up-tempo team, but they scored only 49 points in two nonconference losses.
“We’ll be a much better shooting team than we’ve shown,” he said. “We also need to take better care of the ball than we did last year.’’
Head coach: Mark Wanless, 15th year (166-119).
2006-07 record: 14-8 overall, 10-4 in Rock Valley (third place).
Last conference title: 2003-04.
Key losses: None.
Returning starters: Derek Carrier, 6-3, sr., forward (12 points per game, 4.3 rebounds); Joe Kronforst, 6-0, sr., guard (12.3 ppg); Travis Towns, 6-3, sr., forward (4.3 ppg); Aaron Laskowski, 5-10, sr., guard (7.6 ppg); Bryan Gregory, 6-4, jr., center (14.3 ppg, 4.4 rpg).
Other lettermen: Josh Eastman, 6-2, jr., guard; John Ludwig, 6-5, sr., center; Gabe Mitchell, 5-9, sr., guard; Zac Palet, 6-4, jr., forward; Adam Dickinson, 6-0, sr., guard; Mike Hesselman, sr., guard; Matt Buhrow, 6-2, sr., forward.
Season outlook: Edgerton is a near-unanimous choice of opposing coaches to end Evansville’s two-year reign as Rock Valley champion. The Crimson Tide spent much of the summer playing against high-level competition and enters the conference season with experience and the ability to get high-scoring performances from Gregory, Carrier, Kronforst and Laskowski, a three-way all-conference performer in football.
Defense always has been a Wanless forte, and that won’t change.
“We’ll have to see how we take care of the ball and create points off turnovers,’’ Wanless said. “Just running up and down the court doesn’t get it done.”
Head coach: Chris Wagner, sixth year (79-32).
2006-07 record: 19-2 overall, 14-0 in Rock Valley (first place).
Last conference title: 2006-07.
Key losses: Ross Dunphy, averaged 13.4 points a game as conference Player of the Year; David Mills, averaged 10 points and 6.5 rebounds and first-team all-conference; Pat Allen, all-conference honorable mention; Kyle Maurer, averaged 10.8 points and was all-conference honorable mention.
Returning starter: Andrew Keister, 6-1, jr., guard (8.9 points per game and first team all-conference).
Other lettermen: Matt McElroy, 5-11, sr., guard; Kevin Diedrich, 6-1, sr., forward; Tommy Kremer, 5-9, sr., guard; Dominic Amato, 6-0, sr., forward; Adam George, 5-10, sr., guard.
Other likely contributors: Eric Nieman, 6-3, jr., forward; Jesse Deininger, 6-1, jr, guard.
Season outlook: Evansville has won three championships in its five years under Wagner, preceded by a long run of success under Duane Updike, and Blue Devil tradition carries a lot of weight. So does a traditional run of deep talent, and this year is no exception. Keister is expected to be the leader, but there will be a lot of other contributors, including McElroy, who has scored 24 and 17 points in the first two victories.
“We have the depth and athleticism to go to our bench, and we’re going 8-9-10 deep now, as we usually do,” Wagner said.
Head coach: Paul Saevre, first year (1-0).
2006-07 record: 14-8 overall, 8-6 in Rock Valley (fourth place).
Last conference title: 1965-66 (State Line).
Key losses: Ryan Naatz, first-team all-conference; Brad Neal.
Returning starters: Alex Mumm, 6-5, sr., forward; Nick Melton, 6-0, soph, guard; Phil Wellnitz, 6-2, sr., forward.
Other lettermen: Derek Johnson, 5-9, sr. Aaron Brookens, 6-2, sr.; Jordan Wichser, 5-10, sr.; Wes Piper, 6-3, sr.
Other likely contributors: Cameron Zipse, 5-8, soph.; A.J. Johnson, 5-9, sr.; Sean Woodworth, 6-1, jr.; Seth Hanson, 5-8, jr.
Season outlook: With the rugged front-line experience of Mumm and the backcourt savvy of Melton, the Vikings expect to have the leadership to make it tough on the other contenders. Melton scored 22 points in the opening 70-41 nonconference victory over Albany.
“The kids are confident and expect to do well,’’ said Saevre, the former UW-Rock women’s coach and the Parkview successor to Jim Nyman, now the girls head coach at Fort Atkinson. “We need to get stronger and focus on fundamentals and taking care of the ball.”
Head coach: Matt McGraw, second year (3-19).
2006-07 record: 3-18 overall, 1-13 in Rock Valley (tied for seventh place).
Last conference title: 1989-90 (Eastern Suburban).
Key losses: Frank Houk, averaged 9.8 points and 5 rebounds a game; Ryan Banks (5.5 ppg, 3.1 rpg), Mac Domres (5.1 ppg), Joe Baker (4.5 ppg).
Returning starters: Cory Fritz, 6-4, sr., forward/center (7.2 points per game, 4 rebounds per game); Chris McMillan, 5-10, jr, guard (5.6 ppg); Jared Domres, 6-3, sr., forward (3.4 ppg).
Other letterman: Kyle Beaumont, 5-11, sr., guard.
Other likely contributors: Caleb Laufer, 5-10, soph., guard; Kevin Watts, 5-10, soph., guard; Luke Bergland, 6-3, soph., forward/center; Michael Tesch, 5-10, jr, guard; Ricky Conti, 5-11, jr., guard; Ignacio Frohlich, 5-11, sr., guard.
Season outlook: McGraw, a product of the strong Dodgeville program, likes where his young Panthers are headed.
“Many of our players are starting to understand what it takes to be competitive at the varsity level,” McGraw said. “Our goal in the conference is to sneak up some teams who probably already have counted us out.’’
WALWORTH BIG FOOT
Head coach: Dan Dowden, eighth year (73-80).
2006-07 record: 14-7 overall, 11-3 in Rock Valley (second place).
Last conference title: 1998-99 (co-champion with Evansville).
Key losses: Tyler Isham, averaged 12.7 points and 5.1 rebounds a game and was first-team all-conference; Sam Berg, averaged 10.2 points and was first-team all-conference; T.J. Torkelson, who averaged 11 points and 6.8 rebounds and was all-conference honorable mention; Kurt Getchel, who averaged 10.6 points and 6.7 rebounds and was all-conference honorable mention; James Long, who averaged 5.3 points and 3.9 rebounds.
Returning starters: None.
Letterman: Steve Oja, 6-0, sr., forward; Kyle Haeberlin, 6-2, sr., center; T.J. Schaid, 5-10, jr., guard; Steve Dowden, 5-11, soph., guard; Steve Gossel, 6-1, sr., forward; John Thies, 6-0, sr., guard; Troy Wiest, 6-2, sr., center.
Other likely contributors: Nate Nagel, 6-0, soph., forward; John Keeler, 6-4, soph., center; Alec McGreevy, 6-2, soph., forward; Taylor Quist, 6-3, jr., center.
Season outlook: Graduation took 95 percent of the Chiefs’ scoring, leaving them as the only Rock Valley team with no returning starters. Despite its youth and inexperience, Big Foot will be far from helpless, as shown Tuesday night when Nagel scored 20 points, Keller got 15 and Schaid 10 in a 69-66 OT win over Harvard, Ill.
“All 15 players know the starting spots are open and are working to fill them,’’ coach Dowden said. “They know their role and are willing to fulfill that role.”
ROCK VALLEY CONFERENCE BOYS BASKETBALL SCHEDULE
TUESDAY, NOV. 20
Edgerton def. Mount Horeb 65-53, OT; Evansville def. Waterloo, 65-61; Orfordville Parkview def. Albany, 70-41.
SATURDAY, NOV. 24
Brodhead def. Belleville, 39-32; Johnson Creek def. Palmyra-Eagle, 49-40; Janesville Parker def. Clinton, 52-30.
MONDAY, NOV. 26
Edgerton def. Cambridge, 51-40.
TUESDAY, NOV. 27
Brodhead def. Monticello, 70-66 (NC), Delavan-Darien def. Clinton, 53-19 (NC), Evansville def. Albany, 66-34 (NC).
FRIDAY, NOV. 30
Edgerton at Beloit Turner, Brodhead at Walworth Big Foot, Palmyra-Eagle at Clinton, Orfordville Parkview at Evansville.
MONDAY, DEC. 3
Brodhead at Jefferson (NC).
TUESDAY, DEC. 4
Cambridge at Clinton (NC), Beloit Turner at New Glarus (NC), Orfordville Parkview at Belleville (NC), Palmyra-Eagle at Lake Mills (NC).
THURSDAY, DEC. 6
Evansville at Edgerton, Clinton at Brodhead, Beloit Turner at Palmyra-Eagle, Walworth Big Foot at Orfordville Parkview.
TUESDAY, DEC. 11
Orfordville Parkview at Edgerton, Brodhead at Evansville, Beloit Turner at Clinton, Palmyra-Eagle at Walworth Big Foot.
FRIDAY, DEC. 14
Edgerton at Clinton, Evansville at Palmyra-Eagle, Orfordville Parkview at Brodhead, Walworth Big Foot at Beloit Turner.
MONDAY, DEC. 17
Evansville at Milton (NC), Juda at Clinton (NC), Palmyra-Eagle at Belleville (NC).
TUESDAY, DEC. 18
Whitewater at Beloit Turner (NC).
THURSDAY, DEC. 20
Walworth Big Foot at Edgerton, Clinton at Evansville, Beloit Turner at Orfordville Parkview, Palmyra-Eagle at Brodhead.
FRIDAY, DEC. 21
Orfordville Parkview at Cambridge (NC).
THURSDAY, DEC. 27
Brodhead at Albany (NC), Whitewater tournament (Edgerton).
FRIDAY, DEC. 28
Egerton at Whtewater tournament, South Wayne Black Hawk tournament (Orfordville Parkview), Dodgeland tournament (Walworth Big Foot), Fall River at Palmyra-Eagle (NC).
SATURDAY, DEC. 29
Orfordville Parkview at South Wayne Black Hawk tournament, Walworth Big Foot at Dodgeland tournament.
THURSDAY, JAN. 3
Milton at Edgerton (NC).
FRIDAY, JAN. 4
Williams Bay at Walworth Big Foot (NC).
SATURDAY, JAN. 5
Evansville at DeForest (NC)
TUESDAY, JAN. 8
Brodhead at Edgerton, Clinton at Walworth Big Foot, Evansville at Beloit Turner, Palmyra-Eagle at Orfordville Parkview.
FRIDAY, JAN. 11
Orfordville Parkview at Clinton, Walworth Big Foot at Evansville, Beloit Turner at Brodhead.
MONDAY, JAN. 14
Brodhead at Monroe (NC), Evansville at Poynette (NC).
THURSDAY, JAN. 17
Beloit Turner at Edgerton, Clinton at Palmyra-Eagle, Walworth Big Foot at Brodhead, Evansville at Orfordville Parkview.
SATURDAY, JAN. 19
Whitewater at Walworth Big Foot (NC), 6 p.m.; Brodhead at Juda (NC), Jefferson at Palmyra-Eagle (NC).
TUESDAY, JAN 22.
Edgerton at Evansville, Brodhead at Clinton, Orfordville Parkview at Walworth Big Foot, Palmyra-Eagle at Beloit Turner.
FRIDAY, JAN. 25
Edgerton at Orfordville Parkview, Clinton at Beloit Turner, Walworth Big Foot at Palmyra-Eagle, Evansville at Brodhead.
SATURDAY, JAN. 26
North Boone (Ill.) at Clinton (NC), 2:45 p.m.
MONDAY, JAN. 28
Wisconsin Dells at Edgerton (NC), Whitewater at Orfordville Parkview (NC).
TUESDAY, JAN. 29
South Beloit, Ill. at Beloit Turner (NC), Jefferson at Evansville (NC).
THURSDAY, JAN. 31
Clinton at Edgerton, Beloit Turner at Walworth Big Foot, Brodhead at Orfordville Parkview, Palmyra-Eagle at Evansville.
SATURDAY, FEB. 2
Edgerton vs. Palmyra-Eagle, Bradley Center, 1:30 p.m.; Beloit Turner at Juda (NC).
TUESDAY, FEB. 5
Edgerton at Walworth Big Foot, Evansville at Clinton, Brodhead at Palmyra-Eagle, Orfordville Parkview at Beloit Turner.
FRIDAY, FEB. 8
Edgerton at Brodhead, Walworth Big Foot at Clinton, Beloit Turner at Evansville, Orfordville Parkview at Palmyra-Eagle.
TUESDAY, FEB. 12
Delavan-Darien at Beloit Turner (NC), Palmyra-Eagle at Williams Bay (NC).
THURSDAY, FEB. 14
Palmyra-Eagle at Edgerton, Clinton at Orfordville Parkview, Evansville at Walworth Big Foot, Brodhead at Beloit Turner.