New Tigers look for similar results with different faces
By Jay Davis
One thing is for certain with this year’s Tiger basketball team. It will be a different team than the one that took fourth at the State A Basketball Tournament.
Four senior starters are gone from last year, and the lone returning starter is out with an injury.
Senior Mitch Heumiller has a knee injury and will miss at least the first two games. He will hopefully start playing on Dec. 21 in Gettysburg against Potter County.
With five new starters on the floor for at least the first two games, coach Tim Frederick has his work cut out for him.
Taking the floor in Saturday’s opener at home against Britton-Hecla will be a starting five that consists of one senior and four juniors. Senior Jason Hill and juniors Mason Keller and Preston Frederick were solid contributors to last year’s team so they will be looked upon to lead the team. The other two starters will be juniors Reece Wientjes and Ethan Kettering.
“The experience Jason, Mason and Preston gained last year goes a long way,” said Frederick. “I’m comfortable with them. They competed every day last year against the seniors.”
There will be plenty of competition for time on the court. The Tigers are 29 strong this season. Joining Heumiller and Hill are fellow seniors Eric Looyenga and Tyler Villbrandt. Along with the four starters, juniors on the squad are Joey Heil, Tanner Jerome, Jordyn Mertz and Sam Weleba. There are eight sophomores in Jordan Bachmeier, Noah Chase, Tyler Larsen, Eli Richards, Riley Schott, Trent Thompson, Lucas Ulmer and Gary Wollman.
Frederick likes the depth, talent and commitment his players have shown.
“This group of kids has put in as much time as any team we’ve had,” said Frederick. “This summer while playing a lot of the kids kind of found their spots.”
With chemistry that has to be developed and the need to find leadership after the loss of last year’s seniors, Frederick and his Tigers will be an ever-changing team as the season progresses.
“We’re developing. We’ve got kids coming around,” said Frederick. “We’re excited. It’s going to be a fun year.”
Nine freshmen are playing their first year of varsity basketball. They are Caleb Dockter, Luis Duarte, Dante Fischer, Hunter Gill, Miles Goldade, Jeffrey Kemnitz, Jesse Nobles, Jaidon Sjomeling and Jordan Whirlwind Horse.
The Tigers will have the advantage of playing three of their four 2013 games at home. Along with the Britton-Hecla game on Saturday, the Tigers host Aberdeen Roncalli on Monday and Little Wound at the Rotary Classic on Dec. 28.
Britton-Hecla has gotten the better of the Tigers with a 6-2 record since the teams began playing during the 2005-06 season. The Braves defeated the Tigers 57-43 in Britton last year, snapping a two-game winning streak for the Tigers in the series.
One of the biggest upsets of the season came last year when the Tigers defeated Aberdeen Roncalli 67-52 in the opening round of the State A Basketball Tournament. That was on the heals of the Cavaliers beating the Tigers 70-59 in Aberdeen early in the season. The Cavaliers have dominated the series over the years with a 34-14 record in all-time play. The Tigers’ win at state came after Roncalli had one nine straight decisions.