The Easton Valley boys basketball team has the stage set for an exciting season this year.
They impressed last year in a 20-4 season, making it to a district final game where they were edged by conference opponent Prince of Peace.
They have all the key pieces returning with yet another year of experience under their belt. Head coach Dan Beck is starting his 44th season between Preston and Easton Valley and realized the potential this roster has.
“I feel like we should be the conference favorite, but our league always presents plenty of challenges,” Beck said. “I believe we will be capable of competing with anyone, not just in our league, but also in the state, as the season progresses.”
The River Hawks return seven letterwinners and five with starting experience. That includes four of their top five scorers: Kaleb Cornilsen, Cade Jargo, Nate Trenkamp and Jessen Weber.
The shooting from the River Hawks has potential to be lights out, with the team shooting an impressive 41.1 percent from the three-point line last season. That was led by 55 drained by Cade Jargo, 53 from Jessen Weber and 46 made by Nate Trenkamp.
“Offensively, we have more guys who can handle the ball and score both from deep, as well as from dribble penetration in the lane, than we have had in a long time,” Beck said. “We also have post players who are capable of scoring inside. Just like the last couple of years, we have great overall depth and several people capable of leading us in scoring on any given night.
Cornilsen led the team with 16.2 points per game with his 6-05 frame. He was also their leading rebounder.
The next leading board getter was Curtis Hartung, who graduated. It leaves the River Hawks at a small deficit in the lane and one that leaves Coach Beck aware.
“We have the potential to be a good rebounding team, but until I see a real desire to dominate the boards, at both ends, it will be a concern,” Beck said.
In addition to his top returners, he has plenty of depth to look at. Braydin Farrell, Hunter Holdgrafer and Logan House all came off the bench last year and have abilities to make an impact.
The Easton Valley fresh-soph team also had a successful season, nearly going undefeated last year. Beck has pieces from that squad, including a 6-07 sophomore in Cayden Deardorf, who could be instrumental this year.
The River Hawks should run the conference and certainly are excited about the prospects. Most of the roster is coming off of a 9-2 football season that ended in the state quarterfinal round.
It’s a group of athletes who are used to success and expect nothing less.
“I believe we have as much talent at Easton Valley, grades 9-12, as we have ever had,” Beck said.
If everyone stays healthy and focused on basketball, we should have a great year at every level.”