Jaguars youth movement in full force: Ashwaubenon boys’ basketball preview
BY MURRAY GLEFFE
ASHWAUBENON—Two of the top Ashwaubenon boys’ basketball returnees, Kyle Krueger and Brady Wittig, didn’t even see the varsity floor until late last season – that’s because both were freshman on an upper-classmen based team.
However, as injuries and losses mounted on a 5-18 squad, head coach Chris Karcz decided to pull the duo up from the junior varsity and give them a look. Eventually, both became key components in the final conference contests and lone playoff loss. Both will be counted on for increased production in 2018-19.
“They are tremendous kids on and off the floor,” said Karcz. “They have been raised by basketball coaches and play the game hard with discipline and focus. I envision them to be key players as we look to get more wins this year.”
With Matt Imig, Chris Morgan and Marcus Tomashek, who perhaps are the best trio of freshman Ashwaubenon has seen in years, the future could be looking up for the Jaguars.
“We are really excited for these guys to be on varsity as ninth graders,” added Karcz. “They have to get stronger and be able to take the contact in a varsity game, but they have tremendous skill and they shoot really, really well.”
The Jaguars bring back a handful of role players that saw limited minutes a year ago. Luke Hansford, Bennett Schuster, Marcus Wagner and Ben Wendorf scored a total of 70 points during their junior seasons.
“Those guys have a year of experience and we need these seniors to produce on both sides of the floor,” said Karcz. “They have been very accepting of the younger players and have shown a lot of leadership in drills and in the offseason.”
The now-graduated Anthony Guarascio and Bryant Phillips could hit the big shot and be physical in taking the ball to the glass in previous seasons. This year could present a problem with limited height and experience.
“We are definitely going to be a small team with nobody really taller than 6-foot-5 or so,” Karcz said. “Kenny (Brooks) is our biggest and widest body and he will have to play big. We will have to fly to the boards and box out well. Most nights we will be undersized, so we have to compensate for that. We do, however, have high IQ guys that are willing to take and make the big shot when needed.”
Wissports.net pegs Green Bay Southwest, Bay Port and De Pere as the early favorites in the ever-grueling Fox River Classic Conference, where 18 games are played each season.
“I think we will surprise some people this year,” Karcz added. “Once our rotation becomes clearer and guys start taking on certain roles, I think we have a chance of being a good basketball team. Our youth coaches and middle school teams set us up to be in this position right now.”
Jaguars Roster: Marcus Wagner, Marcus Tomashek, Christopher Morgan, Luke Jacobs, Alex Steinfest, Matt Imig, Kenny Brooks, Bennett Schuster, Ben Wendorf, Brady Wittig, Kyle Krueger, Luke Hansford, Evan VandenElzen, Sam Nooyen, Rome Purull and Ian MacLean.
For a complete list of the schedule, log on to foxriverclassicconference.org.