DELPHOS — Expectations tend to be high for the Delphos St. John’s boys basketball team.
As Aaron Elwer enters his sixth season at the helm, this season is no different.
Last year the Blue Jays finished 14-9 overall and 7-2 in the Midwest Athletic Conference, but lost in the district semifinals. With three letterwinners returning, the Blue Jays will have to gain experience on the fly.
“We need to work on experience, toughness and the ability to be physical,” Elwer said. “We have a good mix of experience and youth.”
Leading the charge will be a trio of senior letterwinners — guard Curtis Geise (Sr., 5-foot-10), forward Ryan Buescher (Sr., 6-2) and center Seth Bockey (Sr., 6-2).
Making the transition to varsity basketball will be junior Eric Clark. The 5-8 guard will be joined in the backcourt by junior guard Ryan Koester.
“We have a group of players that really enjoy basketball,” Elwer said, “and have put a lot of time and effort to get better.”
The Blue Jays will run a motion offense and will once again play an intense man-to-man defense.
“We will have a high skill level with several players with the ability to score,” Elwer said. “We will defend and be prepared each night we play.”
As usual the Blue Jays will play a very competitive league and nonleague schedule as they hope to prepare for a long tournament run.
“We are looking forward to the season,” Elwer said, “and all of the challenges and successes that we will encounter.”
DELPHOS ST. JOHN’S
COACH: Aaron Elwer
YEARS, RECORD AT SCHOOL: Sixth, 64-46
LAST YEAR’S RECORD: 14-9, 7-2 MAC
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS (*Indicates returning starter): Curtis Geise (Sr., 5-10), Ryan Buescher (Sr., 6-2), Seth Bockey (Sr., 6-2)
PROMISING NEWCOMERS: Eric Clark (Jr., 5-8), Ryan Koester (Jr., 6-1)
TEAM OUTLOOK: The Blue Jays have a strong tradition on their side. A stout defense and skill on the offensive end should help continue that tradition.
COACH: Kort Fledderjohann
YEARS, RECORD AT SCHOOL: Third, 40-25
LAST YEAR’S RECORD: 9-12, 2-7 MAC
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS (*Indicates returning starter): *Jake Allen (Sr., 5-11), *Ryan Lageman (Jr., 5-10), *Andrew Arnett (So., 5-10), Ben Kuck (Jr., 6-1)
PROMISING NEWCOMERS: Isaac Kuntz (Jr., 6-2), Shane Topp (So., 5-10), Jalen Fullenkamp (So., 6-0), Adam Howe (So., 5-11)
TEAM OUTLOOK: “We are very young,” Fledderjohann said. “If we develop our shooters and play with intensity we have the ability to be competitive.” The Rangers, uncharacteristically, fell to the bottom of the Midwest Athletic Conference last season and will have to develop on the go as they have just two seniors on the roster. Six sophomores are listed on the varsity roster.
COACH: Adam Dougherty
YEARS, RECORD AT SCHOOL: Second, 13-9
LAST YEAR’S RECORD: 13-9, 4-5 MAC
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS (*Indicates returning starter): *Luke Schwieterman (Sr., 5-10), *Parker Manager (Sr., 6-1), Carson Manager (So., 6-2), Justin Heitkamp (Sr., 6-6)
PROMISING NEWCOMERS: Ben Homan (Jr., 6-6), Trevor Kitzmiller (Sr., 6-5), Sam Wendel (Sr., 5-8), Alex Speelman (Sr., 6-4)
TEAM OUTLOOK: “Our expectations are high going into the season,” Dougherty said. “These guys invested a lot of time during the summer. We hope to get better every day and play our best in March. We are going to be a very long team that should be able to guard people. We lost a lot to graduation a year ago, but return four guys with big game varsity experience. Our success will be determined in how ready our younger and inexperienced guys are to contribute and how well our parts gel together.”
COACH: Mike Lee
YEARS, RECORD AT SCHOOL: 19th, 271-163
LAST YEAR’S RECORD: 10-12, 4-5 MAC
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS (*Indicates returning starter): *Devon Poeppelman (Sr., 6-0), *Adam Niemeyer (Sr., 6-1), Ethan Wolf (Jr., 6-5), Brandon Hoying (Jr., 5-9)
PROMISING NEWCOMERS: Andrew Knapke (Sr., 5-11), Vince Brown (Sr., 6-0), Kurtis Thobe (Sr., 6-0), Drew Ripploh (So., 6-4), AJ Huelsman (Jr., 5-10)
TEAM OUTLOOK: The Wildcats return experience and guard depth, which is a must if they are to get off to a quick start. Developing offensive consistency and the younger players will be critical for the success of the team.
COACH: Will Snyder
YEARS, RECORD AT SCHOOL: Second, 2-19
LAST YEAR’S RECORD: 2-19, 1-8 MAC
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS (*Indicates returning starter): *Cody Schmitt (Sr., 5-8), *Matt Heindel (Jr., 6-0), Austin Dennison (Jr., 5-10), Brant Barna (Jr., 6-2)
PROMISING NEWCOMERS: Luke Bates (Sr., 6-2), Austin Adams (Jr., 6-0), Tanner Bates (So., 5-10)
TEAM OUTLOOK: According to Snyder: “We must be able to defend, rebound, take care of the basketball, and have great shot selection in order to be successful. Our players are working really hard in the preseason to learn their roles and responsibilities in the second year of the system. A number of MAC teams should be really good this year. I feel that the league is really up for grabs and two losses can still win it (the league).”