by Jeremy Benson, GrandRiverConference.com
North Andrew Cardinals are the coaches’ pick to win the GRC West in Boys Basketball in 2022-23. Worth County received one first place vote and finished 2nd in the poll. Defending Champion Stanberry is picked #4. St. Joseph Christian also received a 1st place vote.
Since North Andrew joined the Grand River Conference in 2016-17, they had either won or tied for a share of the GRC West every season until last year. For most teams, finishing 18-10 and 5-2 in conference would be considered a great year. By North Andrew standards, it was a bit of a down year. They were just coming off a Final Four finish in Class 2. But they had to replace all-conference players in Tanner McDaniel, Brewer Wheeler and Clayton Linville. It was an up-and-down year for the Cardinals. Some highlights were winning the GRC Showcase game against a very good Gallatin team and winning the consolation at both Stanberry and North Platte Tournaments, which are tournaments with very strong fields. But they also struggled at times, with losses by 38 points to Grand View Christian, 37 points to Bishop LeBlond and 44 points to Plattsburg.
The Cardinals return a large number of players this season but do lose top scorer Owen Graham (16.5 ppg) and Couper Simmons, who averaged 7.4 ppg. Cade Thomas also departed via graduation. But North Andrew does return 55% of its scoring. Hayden Ecker is the leading returning scorer with 13.4 ppg. He also averaged 2.7 3-pointers per game which led the GRC West. Braxon Linville (10.8 ppg) led all GRC West freshman in scoring last season. Collin Patterson and Trey McDaniel are guards that saw significant playing time that also return.
North Andrew did have a lot of injuries last season, but they have three players that missed significant time last season. Gunner Lawrence was out through the first two months of the season. Aiden Miller was injured in December and missed the remainder of the season. Jacob Chittum missed the entire season. All three are expected to be big contributors.
Worth County had a rough start to the season last year but xended with a 11-game winning streak before running into Mound City and Tony Osburn in the district championship. They finished 16-7 and 4-3 in conference. But now the Tigers will have to replace 79% of the scoring. All-conference players Ayden Gladstone (18.7 ppg) and Jackson Runde (13.7 ppg), along with Grant Cameron (9.3 ppg) and Jackson Smith (4.8 ppg) will be the top players that Worth County will have to replace. They will start with Junior Tyler New who scored 11.3 ppg last season and Levi Cassavaugh who were starters last season. They will be joined by Tanner Ridge, Braxton Hightshoe and John Galanakis. Coach Les New said that there is “No telling where we will be in the GRC”. They are an “inexperienced team”.
Albany Warriors went finished last season 12-14 and 4-3 in conference. They captured 3rd place in their own tournament. While the Warriors will have to replace a talented senior lineup in Quincy Stamper, Jordan Poppa, Cade Newman and Garett Owens, they do have the leading returning scorer in the GRC West in Kemper Cline at 20 ppg. Cline was the only non-senior to be on the 1st team all-conference for the GRC West last season. He will be joined by fellow seniors Sam Stamper and Troy Popplewell. Coach Jeffrey Epplerly said that those three “will help lead the growth and development of an inexperienced team.”
Stanberry Bulldogs had just won their second consecutive district championship and were preparing to face Mound City in the Class 1 State Sectionals. The previous season, the Mound City Panthers had ended Stanberry’s season in the same round by the score of 70-55. To make matters worse, Tony Osburn had just dropped 62 points on Worth County in their previous game. The Bulldogs had a tall task in front of them if they were going to extend their season.
Stanberry was able to hold Osburn to only 2 points in the first half and 15 for the game and knocked off the Panthers 49-47. They then won a tight game against Green City 50-47 to advance to state. After an overtime win against Wellsville-Middletown, the Bulldogs ran into a tough South Iron team falling 71-45. Stanberry would finish 2nd in State and ranked #2 in the final Class 1 Poll.
The Bulldogs finished the season 25-4 and 7-0 in conference. They defeated Putnam County in the conference championship game to win their first conference championship since 2016 and 13th overall. In addition to winning districts, Stanberry also won the Albany and King City tournaments and were co-champions of their own tournament.
1st team all-conference Seniors Tyler and Austin Schwebach both reached 1000 career points during Stanberry’s playoff run. They have departed along with All-Conference honorable mention Landon Marticke and starter Korbin Fletchall. Junior Colby McQuinn is the lone starter returning. He earned 2nd team all-conference honors last season and averaged 10.4 ppg. Colby McQueen and Adam Jensen will be expected to see significantly more playing time this season.
Coach Nick Groomer said, “I think we will be a lot more competitive than other coaches are going to think. Our expectations would be to finish in the top half of the conference and hope to be competitive in our district.”
St. Joseph Christian
St. Joseph Christian Lions had their winningest season in four years going 19-10 and 5-2 in conference. They were able to win the Gilman City tournament and finish second in the Platte Valley Invitational. But this season will be a rebuilding one for the Lions. They lose 1st-team all-conference Carson Bowman (16.6 ppg) and 2nd-team all-conference Camden Lutz (19.3 ppg) along with Brad Boyd and Caleb Carlson. In all, St. Joseph Christian loses 87% of their scoring from last season.
All their returning players from last season were freshman. As they enter their sophomore season, they will take on the leadership roles for the team. Leading the way will be Nick Orscheln, Johnston Stewart and Hayden Riley. Joining them in the starting lineup will be Sophomore Cy Carlson and Junior Vail Fruechting. Cy had limited time on varsity last year. Vail joined the team late last year, playing mostly JV.
Coach Neal Hook said that his expectations are that the Lions will “play hard and gain experience” this season.
Pattonsburg Panthers record of 12-14 (1-6 in conference) was a bit misleading last season. They had a tough schedule which included several close losses to good teams. Despite losing the conference leading scorer at 21.3 ppg in Zane Reed, who also was 1st team all-conference, the Panthers return 4 starters and top player off the bench. Leading the way is honorable mention all-conference Sam Coin (8.3 ppg), Gage Iddings (10.2 ppg) and Daltyn Sperry (9.0 ppg). They are joined by Maesen Weller and Landon Woodward.
The bench is relatively young and will be looking at Freshman and Sophomore to find minutes. Those that are expecting to contribute are Drayson McCrary, Duke Hoover and Gavin Humphrey. New coach Bill Pottorff said, “Our expectations are that we play hard each and every game with lots of intensity on both sides of the ball.”
King City went 6-15 finishing 1-6 in conference last season which also included their first district win since 2018 when they defeated Albany. It was the second straight season that they had improved their win total over the previous season. Despite losing their three leading scorers in Landon Wells, Parker Muff and Corbin Taylor, the Wildkats have 7 returning seniors, with 6 of them being in the program all 4 years. The seniors, Ty Mooney, Chase Moss, Samuel Derks, Hunter Moss, Hunter Hass, Landon Jackson and Mason Kauffman will are joined by Blakely Eaton, who is the leading returning scorer, plus newcomers Ryder Sample, Graham Medsker, Darwin Bowden and Josiah Shellhorn.
New coach Lane Schuman said that “These seniors have managed to improve upon their previous record for 2 consecutive seasons and look to continue that trend for a third straight year. This year’s squad will need to pick up their scoring load after losing their top 3 scorers from last season. These boys are determined and committed to lay the foundation for a more consistently winning basketball program here in King City.”
North Harrison Shamrocks went 8-19 last season with a 1-6 record in conference. Their highlight of the season was a consolation victory in the Gilman City tournament defeating Gilman City. Leading scorers Wade Briggs and Nick Babinski and starter Brandon Hamilton have departed along Cooper Cracraft and Matthew Heintz. The Shamrocks will be young this season. The lone senior will be Tyson Gibson, who is their leading returning scorer at 6.4 ppg. Junior Keygun Johnson (6.1 ppg) also saw significant minutes from last season. However, everyone else is either new or someone who had limited playing time last season.
North Harrison will have 5 freshman and 4 sophomores out of their 12 players this season. New coach Justin Joiner said, “We are a very young team with only one Senior. I felt like we made strides in the right direction over the summer. I am expecting to have 12 kids on the team this year. Based on the work they put in this summer, we are going to get after it defensively and hopefully be playing our best basketball towards the end of the season.”
Post a Comment