Herald Staff Report
GOOSE LAKE —
When a team graduates a talented senior class, depth can be a cause for concern the following year. But that's not really the case for Northeast boys basketball coach Travis Eversmeyer.
Even though graduation took most of the varsity experience — including first-team all-conference player Mtich Haferbier — from a team that went 15-8 and won the Big East Conference title with a 12-4 record, Eversmeyer believes the Rebels still have a lot of talent in the program.
"We only return three guys that have varsity experience, but we feel that the guys that are moving up from the (junior varsity) and junior high teams are very talented," he said. "There could be nights where we go 10-12 deep."
Still, he isn't quite sure what he has in the final season before the Big East disbands, and he might not be until well into the season.
"This is an exciting group for me because they can do so many things, but scary because you don't know if it will be consistent," Eversmeyer said. "I think this is a team that you will see improve as the year goes on and be a threat to compete with anyone by the end of the season. We are inexperienced, but we are very high on this group. We want to be in the mix for the last conference championship."
Eversmeyer will look to 6-foot-5 senior Bo Lingle to lead the Rebels. Lingle was a second-team All-Big East player last year, when he averaged 8.9 points and 6.5 rebounds a game,
"Offensively, he is one of the smoothest wing players in the conference, with the length to boot," Eversmeyer said. "He has really been working on improving his defense and his effort plays, and it is paying off. He is a tough matchup because he can go inside out. We are looking for consistency and big things out of Bo this season."
The other returning players are 5-10 senior Ben Hildebrandt and 6-2 senior Matt Lorenzen, each of whom averaged 3.9 points a game last year.
"(Hildebrandt is) a strong senior leader looking for a breakout season at the point guard position," Eversmeyer said. "Matt is a good defender and an excellent shooter."
There are only two other seniors on the squad, 6-0 Kaylon Trenkamp and 5-11 Shawn Banowetz.
The lack of experience should give several juniors a chance to step in an contribute right away. They also provide some size, with players such as 6-5 Tyler Moothartand, 6-4 Brendan Butler and a trio of 6-3 players, Damon Diedrich, Nick Anderson and Adam Cain.
The junior class also includes 5-10 Eli Kaczinski and 6-2 Ethan Krogman.
The talent at Northeast extends to the lower grades, too, and Eversmeyer has two sophomores (6-0 Nick Wall and 6-1 Matt Haferbier) and one freshman (5-11 Will Hasken) on the squad.
"(Wall) has the quickness and vision that you look for in a guard," Eversmeyer said. "Once Nick accustoms himself to varsity basketball, he could be a scary player for us. (Haferbier) will be a contributor off the bench who can stretch any man-to-man defense or zone.
"(Hasken) is the first freshman that I have dressed on the varsity level since I have been here. He is extremely coachable, a great defensive player, solid ball-handler and a great shooter."
Obviously, though, a concern will be meshing all the inexperienced players together.
"Our lack of experience is a concern early, but the talent is there," Eversmeyer said. "We are trying to keep it simple early in the season and progressively add more as the season goes on. Our post play at the moment is a concern; but I believe that we have guys there that can get the job done. It is just a matter of the lightbulb coming on. Early on we may play more guard-heavy lineups until the post players get their confidence and consistency."
Eversmeyer will rely on the seniors to bring along the younger players.
"The keys to our season are getting continued leadership out of our seniors," he said. "So far they have been outstanding. We can't have bad days — by this I mean that we have to get better every day in practice and buy in to what our ultimate goals are. We are going to be relying on some young kids to grow up quickly which is exciting for the future of our team. If we get out and run, and get some easy buckets, I think our confidence will grow and we will be very competitive."
As for the rest of the conference, Eversmeyer sees Preston, Marquette Catholic, Camanche and Calamus-Wheatland as the top teams.
"I think if we hold our own early in the year, we will have a chance to make some noise at the end," he said.