Prep boys basketball: Kiel planning on spreading the ball around

Prep boys basketball: Kiel planning on spreading the ball around

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Prep boys basketball: Kiel planning on spreading the ball around

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Heading into the season, the Kiel boys basketball team faces the prospect of replacing two of its three leading scorers from last season. But instead of trying to find single players to do so, the Raiders are taking a more team-oriented approach.

With David Esswein’s 16.7 points per game average and Tyler Konz’s 10.5 PPG gone after the tandem graduated in May, Kiel coach Jamie Arenz said that this year’s crop of juniors, sophomores and even some freshman are ready to step up and compliment their upperclassmen.

“David was our go-to scorer and was expected to score a lot. Tyler controlled the ball up top. When you lose those guys you have to find someone to step in and the scoring this year will come in a more balanced approach,” Arenz said. “One of the pleasant surprises is we found we are a little bit deeper than I expected going into the season. We aren’t overly talented, but I just found we have a rotation where we can go a little bit deeper.

“There’s a lot of parody in terms of the guys coming on the floor and there is not much of a drop off which should work in our favor as we move through the season.”

Two key returning players for Kiel will be junior Jacob Winkel and senior Seth Woods. Winkel was second on the team last year in points per game with 10.8 and the returning pair supplies the Raiders with a stable front court from last season. Winkel and Woods also lend their 6-feet-4-inch frames to a team whose height and length will be a welcome strength.

“With Jacob, he put up good numbers last season, but this year there will be more of a focus on him, so he will have to be smart enough to handle some more pressure in terms of teams collapsing on him,” Arenz said. “I think he is ready for it. He has shown considerable improvement so far, especially on defensive end.”

At the guard position, Kiel will have a freshman and two sophomores who are athletic, Arenz said, and ready to step up when called upon. The Raiders are eying the top four sports in the Eastern Wisconsin Conference standings, something Arenz said is achievable.

“We have some players back that came off the bench last year who have stepped up and made improvements. We know we have a lot of work to do, we can’t be real sloppy and we have to play consistent basketball,” Arenz said. “I think we are a team with some real upside and we will get better as the year goes on, especially with the young guys, they can only improve. I am hoping as we move through January we will be getting better and better. We have high expectations and we are looking to compete.

“We are not overly athletic or overly talented but we are a steady group of guys who work pretty hard every night.”

The one goal the Raiders will be working especially hard to accomplish will be getting a postseason win. After experiencing postseason success recently, Kiel fell in its Division 3 regional opener last season to Milwaukee School of Languages, a loss that left a bad taste in the Raiders’ mouths.

“Anytime you lose in the first round it’s tough. Years before we made some noise in the postseason, and some of these kids have seen it and want to do it, so we will have to be a team that’s very complete, offensively and defensively in order to do so,” Arenz said. “We don’t have a lot of scorers, we will just have balanced scoring. We will have to do the little things as a squad and I think those little things can help some big things happen by the end of the year.”

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