(KMAland) -- The Winter Sports Preview series continues today with a look at the Rolling Valley boys basketball conference.
Thanks to graduation of some of the top players in the conference, this one might be up-for-grabs. Can someone knock the defending champion Boyer Valley off the perch? Let's look at this thing.
NOTE: I have no inside info on athletes that decided not to go out or move in or out of town. These are purely from last year’s QuikStats. Any changes can be sent to email@example.com.
PREVIOUS WINTER SPORTS PREVIEWS
2020 ROLLING VALLEY CONFERENCE BOYS BASKETBALL PREVIEW
Ar-We-Va Rockets — Last Year: 6-17 overall, 2-14 conference
Coach: Matt Wilken
Each of the team’s top five scorers are back, led by second-team All-RVC choice and junior Will Ragaller, who averaged 15.6 points, 6.7 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 2.4 steals per game and hit a team-best 34 3-pointers. He is one of four returning starters, which also includes fellow juniors Cooper Kock (7.0 PPG, 10.0 RPG, 1.5 SPG, 0.6 BPG), Damon Ehlers (1.5 PPG, 1.8 RPG) and Braeden Kirsch (4.1 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 23 3PM). Sophomore Andres Cruz (6.5 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 1.7 APG, 1.7 SPG, 15 3PM) also made starts in four games.
Another sophomore Kyelar Cleveland is a key reserve that hit 18 3s and averaged 3.7 points and 3.1 rebounds per game. Senior Kalon Cleveland splashed 14 treys and averaged 2.8 points and 1.8 boards. Another senior Jeffrey Molina played in 18 games, and juniors Bret Hinners and Conner Kirsch combined to play in 25. Two more juniors — Mason Burgart and Cody Self — return a bit of varsity experience, too.
HOT TAKE: This is a team that could make a very, very large jump from the bottom of the conference to somewhere near the top. They have a lot of experience and plenty of talent. Let’s see how far they can climb.
Boyer Valley Bulldogs — Last Year: 20-3 overall, 15-1 conference
Coach: Shane Reineke
They’ve lost some very important pieces in the last few years, but there’s still a good core coming back. Senior Gavin Reineke was a first-team all-conference choice a year ago when he averaged 12.1 points, 3.0 rebounds, 2.6 steals and 2.1 assists and hit a team-best 49 3-pointers. They also have regular starter and junior Jaidan TenEyck back in the fold, as he averaged 8.6 points, 3.9 assists, 3.2 rebounds and 2.4 steals per game.
Juniors Trevor Malone (3.5 PPG, 3.9 RPG) and Adam Puck (3.8 PPG, 1.7 APG, 0.9 SPG, 25 3PM) got plenty of experience last season, mostly as reserves, and sophomore Drew Volkmann (1.1 PPG) likely gets a big hike in playing time this year, too. Juniors Connor Kenkel, Caden Neilsen and Carsan Wood and seniors Greg Mumm and Clay Roberts also have a good bit of varsity experience.
HOT TAKE: Can they make a third run at the conference in four years? They’ve got a pretty dynamic duo in Reineke and TenEyck that can make life difficult to opposing offenses and defenses. It might be difficult to replace the Berens brothers, but they’ve proven to bounce back from graduation before.
CAM Cougars — Last Year: 19-5 overall, 13-3 conference
Coach: Nick Hodges
Three of their top five scorers are gone, but they were so balanced across the board that there are a bunch of kids that provided scoring support all season. Senior Connor McKee (10.1 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 2.3 APG, 1.0 SPG, 17 3PM) was one of two to average double figures and was so named to the All-RVC second team. Junior Colby Rich (8.6 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 2.8 APG, 13 3PM) started in 11 of the 13 games he played while senior Ethan Arp (8.1 PPG, 1.4 APG) and junior Lane Spieker (6.8 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 2.8 APG, 1.5 SPG) should also figure into the starting lineup this year.
Senior Walker Gettler did make one start a year ago, and juniors Cade Ticknor (1.5 PPG) and Joe Kauffman bring back 27 games of experience. Senior Wyatt Gettler got minutes in nine varsity games in 2019-20.
HOT TAKE: They won’t be quite as balanced as they were last year, but there are definitely four guys that can go and get double figures on any given night. That kind of balance should lend itself to another chase at the top of the league.
Coon Rapids-Bayard Crusaders — Last Year: 13-10 overall, 9-6 conference
Coach: Cory Meyer
Junior Gabe Obert (13.4 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 1.5 APG, 0.9 SPG, 30 3PM) had his expected breakout and was named an All-RVC First Team pick because of it. Junior Tanner Oswald (9.5 PPG, 4.1 RPG, 1.7 APG, 1.0 SPG, 0.7 BPG, 33 3PM) also had a strong season for the Crusaders. And senior Josue Ramirez (3.7 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 1.1 APG, 0.8 BPG) is also back after starting in 15 of the 22 games he played in a year ago.
The final two spots in the starting lineup will not be anywhere near as experienced as the three mentioned above. Senior Jeffrey Kracht played in 12 games last season while junior Easton Hays (1.4 PPG) was active in 11. Senior Quentin Culbertson (6 games) and sophomores Raiden Doty (5) and Lance Clayburg (5) are others returning that have some varsity experience.
HOT TAKE: Obert, Oswald and Ramirez make for a fine trio in the starting lineup, but the big question marks will come with who rounds out the rest of the lineup and gets minutes off the bench. As those other guys find their way, I think CR-B can still have plenty of success while leaning on the triumvirate of returning starters.
Exira/Elk Horn-Kimballton Spartans — Last Year: 11-11 overall, 9-6 conference
Coach: Doug Newton
There’s a big hole to fill with the loss of Creighton Nelson (20.9 PPG, 10.2 RPG), but they do have four pretty regular starters returning. Senior Tyler Petersen (12.2 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 3.7 APG, 1.0 SPG, 44 3PM) was a second-team All-RVC choice while senior Hunter Andersen (6.7 PPG, 2.9 RPG, 2.6 APG, 1.8 SPG) is also back in the mix. Sophomores Easton Nelson (5.3 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 1.1 APG, 0.8 SPG) and Trey Petersen (3.9 PPG, 1.9 RPG, 1.3 APG, 1.5 SPG) also combined to start in 35 games.
Junior Aiden Potts is another that made a pair of starts last season, and junior Easton McCarthy (5 games) and sophomore Derrek Kommes (1) gained a bit of varsity experience last season for the Spartans.
HOT TAKE: Nelson’s 21 and 10 will not be easily replaced, but I still think the Spartans can find a way to fill it up. It’ll just be more from the outside than in the paint this year. With four really strong all-around players returning, the Spartans are a threat in the RVC.
Glidden-Ralston Wildcats — Last Year: 6-15 overall, 4-12 conference
Coach: Tyler Shipley
The Wildcats had a bunch of seniors last season, and they really return only one regular starter in Brigham Daniel. The senior was a second-team All-RVC pick after averaging 11.7 points, 3.7 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 2.3 steals and hitting 27 3-pointers. Senior Karter Kennebeck (3.2 PPG, 2.2 RPG, 0.9 SPG) made two starts, and junior Caden Smith (6.2 PPG, 3.4 RPG) was in the starting lineup once.
Senior Bradey Anschutz and junior Cale Klocke (1.3 PPG) played in 12 games apiece while seniors Kyle Olberding and Carter Scott played in 10 and 5, respectively.
HOT TAKE: Questions abound on who will step up and turn into the team’s third scorer after Daniel and what figures to be a big year for Smith. There’s not a lot of experience here, but that doesn’t always mean detrimental things. I have no hot take here. I’m basically just waiting and seeing.
Paton-Churdan Rockets — Last Year: 5-17 overall, 3-13 conference
Coach: Bud Fagan
The Rockets lose two of their top three scorers, but the exception there is senior Connor Brus, who had a nice season with 11.2 points, 4.2 rebounds and 1.1 steals per game and hit a team-high 45 3-pointers. Two other regular starters are back in junior Bradyn Smith (6.9 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 1.9 SPG) and junior Joe Carey (7.1 PPG, 1.3 SPG, 13 3PM).
Senior Forest Thompson (1.4 PPG, 1.6 RPG) played in 21 games and started four, and junior Justin Stream (1.2 PPG) had one start in 19 games played. Sophomore Shaydon Thurman (1.3 PPG, 1.3 RPG) was a key reserve in 21 games, and junior Riley Cullum saw time in 10 games.
HOT TAKE: I’m seeing some definite improvements coming for the Rockets this season. Brus is one of the league’s best 3-point threats while a full season of Carey and Smith should catapult them up the RVC standings.
West Harrison Hawkeyes — Last Year: 10-12 overall, 8-8 conference
Coach: Rowdy Evans
Three of the top four scorers have advanced out of high school for the Hawkeyes, leaving sophomore Sage Evans, who averaged 8.0 points, 8.5 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 1.4 steals and 0.7 blocks per game in 14 starts. Fellow sophomore Mason King (6.7 PPG, 2.1 APG, 2.0 RPG, 0.9 SPG, 20 3PM) was a starter in six games, and senior Grant Gilgen (3.2 PPG, 3.0 RPG, 1.7 APG, 1.0 SPG) started 16 times.
Senior Brecken Pavlik (2.0 PPG, 2.5 RPG, 0.6 BPG) and sophomore Koleson Evans (2.5 PPG, 2.4 RPG, 0.6 SPG) made starts last season, too, and will likely fill out the starting five. Senior Chantz Cleaver and sophomores Brady Melby and Walker Rife combined to play in 21 games a year ago.
HOT TAKE: The Hawkeyes were competitive pretty much every night last year, and they lose many seniors that had a lot to do with that. It’s going to be a learning and growing process this year, but there’s definitely some good pieces to work with. I’m intrigued with this team.
Woodbine Tigers — Last Year: 13-11 overall, 7-8 conference
Coach: Kyle Bartels
There is one returning All-RVC player from last season on this team. However, in reality, they have two All-RVC players that will suit up this season. Dylan Hoefer (13.6 PPG, 7.2 RPG) started and played in all 24 contests and was a second-team All-RVC choice. Meanwhile, senior Layne Pryor (9.0 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 1.0 APG) missed most of the season before returning just in time for a fun postseason run. Junior Cory Bantam (7.2 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 1.8 APG, 1.0 SPG, 13 3PM) could also get some All-RVC love before it’s all said and done.
Seniors Erik Gau (2.7 PPG, 1.1 RPG, 15 3PM) and Kael Smith were key reserves that played in 24 and 22 games, respectively, last season. Juniors Paul Freund, Sloan Smith, Josh Newton and Easton Reisz and sophomore Kylon Reisz also picked up some variety experience.
HOT TAKE: Hoefer, Pryor and Bantam are as good as any trio in the conference. They are going to give the Tigers a chance on any given night. Gau, Smith and the rest of the supporting cast will be important in some of the bigger games when teams try to clamp down on the trio, and if they can make some strides there’s no reason Woodbine can’t win the league.
ONE FINAL TAKE: This might be the most up-for-grabs league I’ve previewed. I actually believe I can make a case for no fewer than six of these teams winning the conference. I’m going with two favorites, though: CAM and Woodbine.
The Cougars have a bunch of guys that can hurt you on a given night while Woodbine might have two or three of the most elite players in league. Boyer Valley shouldn’t be counted out, given they’ve been winning the league lately and have two very good players themselves. Coon Rapids-Bayard is great at the top of their lineup, Ar-We-Va has EVERYBODY back and Exira/EHK is always a threat. This one should be fun to follow this winter.
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