Boys Basketball Capsules: Taking a Quick Look at Area Boys Basketball Teams

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Ryan Murken

Your Prep Sports

City High

Coach: Brennan Swayzer (First season)

Assistant coaches: Nate Mintes, Fred Newell, Tim Hodges

Last season: 5-16

Returning starters: Byron Benton, 6-2, Jr.

Other returning letterwinners: Keshawn Christian, 6-4, Sr.  

Newcomers to watch: Jamari Newson, 6-2, Soph.; Andre Miller, 6-4, Jr.; Kolby Kucera, 6-5, Jr.

Top returning scorers: Keshawn Christian 9.9; Byron Benton 7.5

Top returning rebounders: Keshawn Christian 4.4; Byron Benton 2.5

Headliner: Junior Byron Benton averaged 7.5 points, 2.6 assists and 2.5 rebounds per game a year ago and was at his best at the end of the season scoring in double figures three times in the final six games.

Keep an eye on: Senior Keshawn Christian was limited to eight games a year ago but averaged 9.9 points and 4.4 rebounds per game in those contests.  

Circle the date: December 13 vs. West High. The first of two regular season meetings between the two cross-town rivals comes at City High, the spot of the last Little Hawk win in the series back in 2016.

Breakdown: First-year head coach Brennan Swayzer takes over a City High program that has won 14 games over the past three seasons combined and is coming off back-to-back five-win seasons.

Benton is the lone returning starter from last year’s team that finished 5-16 though Christian has spent time in the starting lineup each of the past three seasons.

Swayzer expects juniors Kolby Kucera and Andre Miller to step in and make immediate contributions this season along with sophomore Jamari Newson. 

West High

Coach: Steve Bergman (29th season) and Paul Rundquist (Second season)

Assistant coaches: Gordon Rundquist

Last season: 17-5 (Class 4A State quarterfinals)

Returning starters: Even Brauns, 6-9, Sr.; Marcus Morgan 6-2, Jr.; Nick Pepin, 5-11, Sr.

Other returning letterwinners: Joey Goodman, 5-8, Sr.; Ben Vander Leese, 6-4, Sr.; Tate Crane, 6-3, Sr.

Newcomers to watch: Christian Barnes, 5-10, Soph.; Charlie Moreland, 6-0, Sr.

Top returning scorers: Even Brauns 11; Nick Pepin 7.7; Marcus Morgan 7.4

Top returning rebounders: Even Brauns 5.5; Marcus Morgan 3.2; Tate Crane 1.8

Headliner: A Belmont recruit, Even Brauns had a solid season in his first year at West High averaging 11 points, 5.5 rebounds and a team-high 1.4 blocks per game. The 6-foot-9 senior will look to build on those numbers this season after shooting 68 percent from the field a year ago.

Keep an eye on: Junior Marcus Morgan is a strong candidate for a breakthrough season after averaging 7.4 points and 3.2 rebounds per game last season as a sophomore.

Circle the date: January 10 vs. Cedar Falls. West High hosts the two-time defending 4A champion Tigers in a key Mississippi Valley Conference matchup.

Breakdown: There is a noticeable hole in the West High lineup with the graduation of all-state forward Patrick McCaffery but the Trojans bring back plenty of size in Brauns, experience with senior Nick Pepin and athleticism with four-sport standout Morgan to make another state tournament run.

Brauns, Pepin and Morgan were all first-year starters on the Trojans state quarterfinal squad from a year ago but will all be expected to up their production in the post-McCaffery era.

Pepin averaged 7.7 points per game last season while shooting 53 percent from 3-point range while Morgan averaged 7.4 points per game and Brauns 11.

West High should get big boosts from seniors Tate Crane and Ben Vander Leest who each got their feet wet at the varsity level a year ago while Joey Goodman, Charlie Moreland and Christian Barnes will all be in line for roles in the West High rotation.

Liberty High

Coach: Stu Ordman (Third season)

Assistant coaches: Ryan Kelly, Mark Lowe, Loren Hammerand, Bruce Davis

Last season: 8-13

Returning starters: Andre Brandon, 6-5, Sr.; Sam Funke, 6-2, Sr.; Ben Houselog, 6-2, Sr.; Ethan O’Donnell, 6-3, Jr.

Other returning letterwinners: Colin Shultz, 6-5, Soph.; Basil Aldoss, 6-2, Jr.; Cody Schroeder, 5-10, Jr.; Kelby Telander, 6-3, Jr.; Ira Hazeltime, 6-0, Jr.; Grayson Tyler, 6-0, Jr.

Newcomers to watch: Savion Taylor, 6-3, Fr.

Top returning scorers: Andre Brandon 14.4; Ethan O’Donnell 10.2; Grayson Tyler 5.1

Top returning rebounders: Andre Brandon 8.3; Ethan O’Donnell 4; Sam Funke 3

Headliner: Senior Andre Brandon is coming off an offseason injury but is one of the best in the MVC when healthy averaging 14.4 points and 8.3 rebounds per game last season.

Keep an eye on: Junior forward Ethan O’Donnell will look to build on a stellar sophomore season in which he ranked second on the team behind Brandon in scoring (10.2) and rebounding (4).

Circle the date: December 20 vs. City High. The Lightning will look to take momentum into the holiday break when they close out the 2019 portion of the schedule with a home game against cross-town rival City High.

Breakdown: After winning eight games each of the past two seasons the pieces are in place for a breakthrough season at Liberty High.

Four starters and five of the top six scorers from last season return led by versatile forwards Brandon and O’Donnell who give the Lightning a formidable front court presence.

Sam Funke and Ben Houselog return after each averaging four points per game a year ago as does junior guard Grayson Tyler who averaged 5.1 points per game and shot 35 percent from 3-point range.

Liberty High should have depth this season as juniors Basil Aldoss, Cody Schroeder, Kelby Telander and Ira Hazeltine all return with experience and sophomore Colin Schultz and freshman Savion Taylor are added to the mix.

Solon

Coach: Matt Lesan (First Season)

Assistant coaches: Chris Knight, Marc Foster, Matt Messenger, Lee Cusick, Matt Morrison

Last season: 9-12

Returning starters: Cam Miller, 6-2, Sr.; David Bluder, 6-3, Jr.

Other returning letterwinners: Bo Janssen, 6-1, Jr.; Carson Shive, 6-0, Jr.; Ben Cusick, 6-2, Jr.; Luke Van Rockel, 5-11, Sr.

Top returning scorers: David Bluder 8.9; Carson Shive 7.1; Cam Miller 6.2

Top returning rebounders: Cam Miller 6.2; Carson Shive 2.5

Headliner: Junior David Bluder will look to step into more of a lead scoring role this season after a strong sophomore season that saw the 6-foot-3 guard average 8.9 points and 2.5 rebounds per game.

Keep an eye on: Senior Cam Miller is a three-year starter that led the Spartans in rebounding (6.2) and was second in assists (2.8) a year ago but will look to improve the 6.2 points per game from last season.  

Circle the date: Dec.13 vs. Benton Community. The home opener for first-year head coach and Solon alum Matt Lesan comes against Benton Community on a Friday.

Breakdown: Former Solon standout Matt Lesan takes over the program at his alma mater and inherits a team that returns a pair of starters from a 9-12 season last winter.

Bluder and Miller return with starting experience while juniors Bo Janssen, Carson Shive and Ben Cusick and senior Luke Van Rockel are all back after getting their feet wet at the varsity level last season.

Shive averaged 7.1 points and 2.5 rebounds per game last season while Janssen averaged 3.6 points.

Clear Creek Amana

Coach: Brandon Clubb (4th season)  

Assistant coaches: Mark Stern, Nick Neuendorf, Chuck Wolfe, Tate Thomsen

Last season: 11-9

Returning starters: Tyler Schrepfer, 5-11, Sr.; Christian Withrow, 6-3, Jr.; TJ Bollers, 6-5, Jr.; Nick O’Connor, 6-3, Sr.

Other returning letterwinners: Mike Potter, 6-2, Jr.; Brock Reade, 6-2, Jr.  

Newcomers to watch: Kyle Schrepfer, 5-9, Soph.; Ben Swails, 6-2, Soph.

Top returning scorers: Tyler Schrepfer 12.1; Christian Withrow 11.4; TJ Bollers 10.2

Top returning rebounders: TJ Bollers 7.7; Christian Withrow 4.2; Tyler Schrepfer 3.9

Headliner: Senior Tyler Schrepfer was a unanimous all-WAMAC West Division pick a year ago after leading the Clippers with 12.1 points and 2.9 assists per game and is poised for an even bigger season this year.

Keep an eye on: Christian Withrow, a 6-foot-3 junior emerged as capable scorer last season averaging 11.4 points per game while shooting a team-high 54 percent from the floor.

Circle the date: December 20 at Center Point-Urbana. Clear Creek Amana closes the pre-holiday schedule with a road tilt at defending WAMAC West Division champion Stormin’ Pointers.

Breakdown: Clear Creek Amana posted its first winning season since 2015-2016 last year going 11-9 but the expectations are much higher entering this season.

Four starters, including the top three scorers, from last year’s team return as the Clippers bring back four players that averaged at least 8.8 points per game a year ago.

Schrepfer and Withrow headline the list of returning starters while junior forward TJ Bollers is back after averaging 10.2 points and a team-high 7.7 rebounds per game and senior Nick O’Connor returns after averaging 8.8 points, 3.4 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game.

The Clippers will have depth as juniors Mike Potter and Brock Reade return after seeing varsity minutes last season while sophomores Ben Swails and Kyle Schrepfer are expected to step into larger roles.

Regina

Coach: Jared Galpin (Third season)

Assistant coaches: Barry Lehman, Jeremy Brooks, Dylan Sloan

Last season: 20-3 (Class 2A State Quarterfinals)

Returning starters: Masen Miller, 6-0, Sr.; Ashton Cook, 6-4, Jr.

Other returning letterwinners: Jack Keller, 6-3, Sr.  

Newcomers to watch: Josh Dutchik, 6-2, Sr.; Nic Hein, 6-0, Sr.; Casey Daniel, 5-8, Sr.; Danny Molony, 6-2, Jr.; Chase Becker, 6-2, Jr.

Top returning scorers: Masen Miller 20.4; Ashton Cook 13.4

Top returning rebounders: Masen Miller 4.5; Ashton Cook 4.3

Headliner: A Truman State recruit, Masen Miller solidified himself as one of the top players in Class 2A last season averaging 20.4 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game while leading Regina to the state tournament.

Keep an eye on: Junior Ashton Cook enjoyed a breakthrough season a year ago averaging 13.4 points and 4.3 rebounds per game and the 6-foot-5 guard should see those numbers soar this season.

Circle the date: December 13 at Camanche. A stretch of four consecutive road games to open the season concludes with a rematch of last season’s substate final at Camanche.

Breakdown: Regina won 15 straight games following a 5-2 start to last season, advancing to the 2A state tournament for the first time since 2015.

The Regals return their top two scorers from last year’s state quarterfinal squad in all-state point guard Masen Miller and 6-foot-4 junior Ashton Cook but must fill out the rest of the lineup.

Miller and Cook give the Regals a stellar starting point after combining to average 33.8 points and 8.8 rebounds per game last season.

Senior Jack Keller returns after averaging 1.2 points per game in limited action last season while head coach Jared Galpin expects seniors Josh Dutchik, Nic Hein and Casey Daniel to step up along with juniors Danny Molony and Chase Becker.

West Branch

Coach: Jason Kern (Second season)

Assistant coaches: Kaleb Duwa, Luke Posivio, Brian Boelk

Last season: 16-5

Returning starters: Trey Eagle, 6-3, Sr.

Other returning letterwinners: Thomas Gould, 6-1, Soph.; Jeff Bowie, 6-5, Jr.; Matt Whaley, 5-10, Sr.

Newcomers to watch: Tanner Lukavsky, 6-2, Sr.; Simon Palmer, 6-4, Jr.; Gavin Hierseman, 6-1, Jr.; Kelby Burger, 5-10, Jr.

Top returning scorers: Thomas Gould 7.2; Trey Eagle 5; Jeff Bowie 4.1

Top returning rebounders: Thomas Gould 3.1; Trey Eagle 2.6;

Headliner: Senior Trey Eagle has stepped up with big seasons in baseball last summer and football in the fall and will look to do the same this winter. Eagle is the lone returning starter from last season when he averaged 5 points and 2.6 rebounds per games.

Keep an eye on: Thomas Gould will look to build on a strong freshman season in which he averaged 7.2 points and 3.1 rebounds per game while shooting 55 percent from the field.

Circle the date: January 14 vs. Regina. The Bears host longtime rival Regina in the first of two regular season meetings.

Breakdown: West Branch went 16-5 in its first season under head coach Jason Kern last year and will look to follow up that success with another strong season.

The Bears must replace its top three scorers from last season but bring back a pair of experienced players in Eagle and Gould and will benefit from the return of senior Tanner Lukavsky who averaged 10.9 points per game as a sophomore but missed all of last season with an injury.

Junior Jeff Bowie returns after averaging 4.1 points per game a year ago while senior Matt Whaley is also expected to step into a larger role.

Kern expects juniors Simon Palmer, Gavin Hierseman and Kelby Burger all to be in the mix of minutes.

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