Coach: Charlie Klinefelter (ninth season)
Last season’s record: 2-8
Top returning players: Koby Hayes, sr.; Oscar Lopez, jr.; Francisco Moreno, so.
Top new players: Andres Moreno, sr.; Isaac Yanez, sr.; Mikey Villalobos, jr.
Worth Noting: The Little Giants got a boost in numbers with 18 players on the team this year after having only six last winter. … Andres Moreno has missed the past two seasons because of injuries and was in a car accident during the summer. “I’m hoping he can make it through a whole year because he looks good right now,” Klinefelter said. … Klinefelter said he’s looking for the Little Giants to improve over last season. “Our strength should be our speed,” Klinefelter said. “One of our goals is to be much more competitive than last year and to finish above .500.”
Coach: Kenny Shrimplin (sixth season)
Last season’s record: 2-9, 1-8 Little Ten
Top returning players: Austin Fischer, sr.; Wyatt Lundquist, sr.; Joe Quest, sr.
Top new players: Joel Billhorn, fr.; Ed Fry, fr.; Tyler Billhorn, fr.; Tate Sundberg, fr.; Josh Martin, fr.; Brayden Klein, fr.
Worth Noting: A trio of seniors will lead the Lions as Fisher (3.5 points a game, 2.7 rebounds a game), Lundquist (3.2 rpg) and Quest (2.3 ppg, 3.1 rpg) all saw time last season. Fisher will be the team’s point guard, while Lundquist and Quest, who are both 6-foot-4, are post players. … “The three seniors are great leaders and are willing to teach the younger kids as much as they can,” Shrimplin said. “They stay calm with them and understand they were once in their shoes.” … Shrimplin said the freshman class is talented. “The goal I have this year is to make sure the younger kids learn as much as they can to build for the future,” said Shrimplin, who added that he’d like to see the Lions finish at .500 or better.
Coach: Gerald Fruit (fourth season)
Last season’s record: 5-5, 5-4 Little Ten
Top returning players: Bryar Keller, sr., G; Garrett Cook, jr., G; Diego Vazquez, jr., G.; Griffin Cook, so., G-F
Worth Noting: The Red Raiders have only two seniors, but since Earlville only played varsity games last season, they return several players with experience. “This is a young group, but they are athletic and committed to improving and being successful,” Fruit said. … Fruit said this group has been successful throughout their athletic careers. “I have watched these kids compete in different sports since they were all young and they have always been a competitive group,” Fruit said. “I personally believe we will continue along that path this season.”
Henry-Senachwine Coach: Randy Westerdahl (2nd year)
Last season’s record: 3-10, 3-10 Tri-County
Top returning players: Holdyn Carr, sr.; PJ Ehrat, sr.; Eric Garrison, sr.; Troy Westerdahl, sr.; Drew Bushnell, jr.; Amsal Jakupi, jr.; Ayden Malavolti, jr.; Colton Williams, jr.
Top new players: Lane Elliott, jr.; Mason Johnson, jr.; Jacob Sharwarko, jr.
Worth noting: Although the Mallards don’t have a lot of size, they do have experience, as several of the juniors saw varsity time as sophomores. … Seniors Carr, Ehrat, Garrison and Westerdahl will lead the way, with Malavolti and Williams battling for the No. 5 spot. Jakupi will be out early with a shoulder injury but should rejoin that mix around Thanksgiving. … Fundamentals like boxing out to rebound will be key if this spunky Henry squad is to compete well with favorites Roanoke-Benson, Midland, Marquette and Seneca in a more balanced conference. “Our size is the only thing that worries me,” Westerdahl said. “Other than that, we’re really quick and athletic, and hopefully we can knock some shots down and compete this year. … Depth-wise, I’m pretty pleased. If everyone falls into their role and does what they’re supposed to do, guys will be getting a lot of playing time.” – Charlie Ellerbrock