Butler County boys preview

Charles Chaney
Butler County Times Gazette
Butler County Times Gazette

Andover Trojans

Last season: 23-0, Class 5A Final Four

Head Coach: Martin Shetlar, 4th year (45-20)

League: AVCTL-II

There’s unfinished business for the Andover Trojans as the head into the 2020-21 season.

Last year’s title run was cut short and they return three starters from last year’s unbeaten squad, led by All-County Preseason Player of the Year, Jack Johnson.

Complimenting what Johnson does is Kaleb Gaddis and Isaiah Maikori, the two seniors that will help the fast paced offense of the Trojans fly this season.

They’ll need to replace players like Harper Jonas (Bethel) and Jack Taylor (Tabor). If they reproduce even close to what those guys did, the Trojans could be looking at another unbeaten streak.

The Trojans will have some youth, such as Brady Strausz (6-2 sophomore) and Eli Shetlar (6-3 sophomore).

Expect Andover to put the threes in bunches as they average 20 attempts per game, hitting 36.1 percent of them. They’ll hope those threes help them replicate their 67.6 points per game, which was third best in the state of Kansas last year, regardless of class.

Andover Central Jaguars

Last season: 14-9, First round Class 5A State Tournament

Head Coach: Tyler Richardson, first year (0-0)

League: AVCTL-II

First year head coach Tyler Richardson will have his work cut out for him as the Jaguars lost nine starters from last year, including Drexel signee, Xavier Bell.

The Jaguars return only one player that saw significant varsity minutes in Skyler Clevenger. He appeared in 21 of the 23 games and averaged 3.6 points per game as a sophomore. He’ll be leaned upon due to his ability to shoot the rock, especially from deep. He shot 34 percent (21 of 61) last year.

There’s a handful of players who will get some reps this year, such as Max Holcomb, Matt Sears, Kyren Parrott. Sophomore Zion Young appeared in a handful of games last season and could see some early action.

Richardson wants to run an up-tempo style of offense, hoping to push the opposing defenses to their breaking point.

Expect the Jaguars to really use the underdog role this season as motivation.

Augusta Orioles

Last season: 19-4, Class 4A Final Four

Head Coach: Ryan Petty, 1st year at Augusta, 4th overall, 26-37

League: AVCTL-III

Gone is one of the most successful classes in Augusta history as players like Zach Davidson and Jaren Jackson head off to play their respective sports at the next level. Jake Sims left, too, as he took an administrative position within the district paving the way for Ryan Petty to start his own legacy at Augusta.

Petty joines the Orioles after three years coaching his alma mater at Liberal.

The shoes may be tough to fill but he’ll have some help doing it. All-County selection Ely Wilcox, an all-around athlete will be there to help. Ryan Andrews, who started last season will be contributing and Brendan Parker, the sharp shooter who will be expected to carry much of the load like Jackson did last season will be there, too.

The Orioles will have some depth this year with Kaden McDaniel, Jett Hand and Xander Roberts being key contributors that were important off last year’s Final Four team.

Berean Academy Warriors

Last season: 23-1, First Round, Class 1A State Tournament

Head Coach: Lewis Weibe, 27th year, 483-132

League: Heart of America

The Berean Warriors left Dodge City after the Class 1A tournament with a bad taste in their mouth. The No. 1 overall seed found themselves knocked out in the first round after an unbeaten run up to that point.

Luckily for the Warriors, they bring back senior Chase Wiebe, the do-it-all player from a year ago, where he averaged 17.1 points per game and helped the Warriors to the No. 1 ranking for much of the season throughout 1A.

Head Coach Lewis Wiebe is no stranger to the different adversities his teams face as he heads into his 27th year. He’s closing in on win No. 500.

The Warriors will be loaded with seniors, with five ready to go on opening night. They have four different players averaging at least five points.

Bluestem Lions

Last season: 6-14

Head Coach: Branigun Gomez, 3rd year (13-26)

League: Tri-Valley

The Bluestem Lions will look to improve upon last year’s six wins and Head Coach Branigun Gomez will hope his seniors will be the catalyst to do so.

Gone is Garrett Korte and Nic Laidler, the mighty duo that helped Bluestem win a handful of games over the last few years; including the 19-point comeback last season against Flinthills. They’ll rely on Logan Walden, who is known for his moves on the football field, Easton Strum (5-9 guard), Cooper Larson (6-0 senior) and DJ Jackson (5-1 senior).

When you have losses like that, there may be some growing pains but Gomez is excited about the potential youth infusion heading into the season.

Circle Thunderbirds

Last season: 6-15

Head Coach: Bo Horyna, 8th year, 72-78

League: AVCTL-III

Injuries to key players handicapped a lot Circle wanted to do last season. Now, they’ve lost four starters heading into this new season and could be facing a reloading type of year. Head coach Bo Horyna is ready for the challenge.

In the summer, senior Luke Beougher, who was one of the top scorers for Circle a year ago has transferred to Sunrise Christian Academy, leaving only Drew Middleton as the only returning starter from last season. Middleton is the only player returning that has seen significant varsity minutes from last season. There will be others playing for the T-Birds but injuries are already showing up as Luke McGinnis is out to start the season but will eventually join the team.

Douglass Bulldogs

Last season: 2-19

Head Coach: Laron Nordstedt, 6th year at Douglass, 9th overall, 60-112

League: Central Plains League

On the bright side for Douglass, you can only go up from last year’s two wins. For head coach Laron Nordstedt, the goal is much higher and he’ll lean on senior Jared Stoffel to do so.

The senior was a leading scorer a eyar ago and is an athletic kid with a high basketball IQ. He averaged 11.0 points and 4.1 rebounds per game.

In all, the Bulldogs return five starters from last year’s team, three of them will return once again next year. David Arvealo (5-10 guard), Brady Roberts (5-9 guard), Chris Titus (6-4 center), Jordan Stoffel (6-0 guard) will eat up a bulk of the minutes.

Expect the football star, Cole Martin to step in and play some serious minutes as sixth man for Nordstedt’s team.

El Dorado Wildcats

Last season: 5-17

Head Coach: Drew Culbertson, 1st year (0-0)

League: AVCTL-III

The El Dorado Wildcats had to make a coaching change when Jordon Regehr resigned, giving Drew Culbertson the chance to make his own name for the Wildcats and Culberton is excited to do so.

The Wildcats were in a bunch of games last year, despite their 5-17 record, but never could figure out how to close the game or when a team would go on a run, they didn’t know how to respond and that experience is what Culbertson is hoping to mold into wins this year.

Last year, El Dorado was 4-3 when scoring at least 50 points. They were 1-14 when they scored under 50 points. El Dorado averaged 47.5 points per game last season.

They gave up an average of 59.1 points per game, one of the highest in Class 4A. So, the defense will have to be much improved for the Wildcats.

While the top two scorers for a season ago are gone, Connor Clausing, Zach Wittenberg, Jeramiah Kemboi, Jaydon Sundgren and Dravin Fowler return that place significant minutes last season.

The Wildcats will lack some size with the graduation of those two, an issue from a season ago. Trip Baker will step up to the varsity level to help out as well.

Flinthills Mustangs

Last season: 6-16

Head Coach: Tod Johnson, 1st year (0-0)

League: South Central Border League

Last year’s head coach Steve Oltman resigned in May to take an administrative job and the Flinthills Mustangs turned to Tod Johnson, the man who does it all as he coaches multiple sports for the school.

Johnson will hopefully help turn some of those heartbreaking losses into wins. They will have to replace some talent like Isaac Bugner and Kedryn Morse, who felt like he was the heart and soul of the team, but there is some potential.

The Mustangs have All-County pick Hunter Lowmster back, who averaged 14.8 points per game as a freshman to lead the team. Then, Nate Becker, a freshman who was third on the team in scoring.

However, the Mustangs only have eight players out currently for basketball and the depth could be a larger issue as the season progresses.

Remington-Whitewater Broncos

Last season: 5-16

Head Coach: Matt Reiger, 5th year, 31-70

League: Heart of America

Remington may have only won five games a year ago but their goals are much higher this season as they return a handful of experienced players, despite only one starter returning.

Braden Scribner, the 5-10 guard will return as the starting point guard and will look to build upon a solid sophomore season last year. He was a team leader in almost every team statistical category. He’ll be asked to be a team later this year.

Then, seniors Toby Lewis (6-0 post) and Brody Lewis (6-0 guard) will be looked as team leaders.

Junior Griffin Cook (6-0 guard) and sophomore Samuel Entz (6-1 post) will get some serious minutest his year.

Rose Hill Rockets

Last season: 13-10, Class 4A Final Four

Head Coach: Joshua Shirley, 6th year, 49-60

League: AVCTL-IV

After a trip to the Class 4A Final Four cut short, the Rockets found a taste of the good life and want to keep going there.

Head Coach Josh Shirley will have to do it without All-State player, Koby Campell who has taken his talents to Kansas Wesleyan.

While last year defenses were drawn to really one person, it will be a team effort this season for the Rockets as they lost four starters from last year’s Final Four run. Coach Shirley has the tools for it with sophomore Kellan Simoneau most likely going to step into more of a role as Campbell held as a perimeter threat. Then, senior Nolan (5-10 guard) who averaged 6.8 points, 4.0 rebounds and 2.0 steals per game will be a leader his teammates will turn to for leadership.

Transfer Adriel Smith will garner some minutes as well. He was a City League Honorable Mention last year before making the move from Wichita East. He averaged 8.7 points on 52 percent shooting, including 49 percent from three.

The big keys for Rose Hill is how will their defense grow and are they able to build off of it.