HOMESTEAD BOYS BASKETBALL
There are a lot of new faces greeting second-year coach Kevin McKenna but what looks like a rebuilding year on the surface could actually be a potent reloading process, as the Highlanders are long and have the potential to be very explosive this winter.
They opened their season on a sound note Friday with a 69-51 win over nonconference foe Muskego.
"We're really young, only four seniors on a roster of 13," said McKenna, whose team was 15-9 last season. "We have three sophomores and the rest are juniors. We're going to try and learn from each other, trust each other and feed off one another. There's going to be a lot of teaching going on but the kids have done a great job of buying into what we're trying to do so far.
"We've had some really great practices with good tempo and intensity."
The Highlanders, who will have to do without 6-9 all-everything Brigham Young recruit Luke Worthington, will build around three strong front-court players. They include 6-6 senior Jerrod Walton (10 ppg), 6-6 Luke Mueller (8 ppg) and 6-8 three-year varsity player junior Jaylen Key (10 ppg).
McKenna said all three of them bring different attributes to the table. He said Key has really matured on and off the court and looks like he might be a good leader this winter.
Other seniors of note include 6-0 Seth Cooley, (5 ppg) and 6-5 Fred Eason (5 ppg). Another letter-winner is 6-5 sophomore Jack Popp, who can really fill the basket when he's going well.
McKenna said the team might go 12 or 13 deep at times this winter. Others who he is giving long looks to so far include 6-0 junior Cam Marotta, 6-5 sophomores Jacob Urban and Josh Mueller and 6-3 junior John Marita.
"If we can successfully turn up the pressure we might use close to everyone (every game)," McKenna said. "...These are guys who like to be around each other and who really want to get better. They're showing competitiveness and intensity and they really want to make each other better."
The Highlanders blew open the Muskego game with a 26-11 effort in the third quarter as Key had 18 and Luke Mueller and Popp had 11 apiece and Cooley eight. McKenna said 11 played in this contest.
Homestead is off until its conference opener at Port Washington on Dec. 6.
SHOREWOOD BOYS BASKETBALL
The high expectation Greyhounds opened their season with a sound 77-56 Woodland Conference victory over Cudahy on Friday.
"Any win is a good start," fourth-year coach Phil Jones said. "We're trying to play more players and go a little deeper than we have in the past. We're going to try and force the tempo if we can."
The Greyhounds, who are trying to improve on their 13-10 record of a year ago, will look to build around three returning starters including 5-10 sophomore guard Tejon Lucas (9 ppg), 5-10 senior guard Kejuan Glosson (9. 7 ppg) and 6-3 senior Alec Nelson (2.8 ppg).
Jones is looking to the return of good health of juniors 6-4 Paris Perkins and 5-8 Kevin Taylor to give his team some versatility and athleticism. Others who Shorewood will count on include 5-8 senior Matt Smith, 6-3 junior Riley Sellinger, 6-2 sophomore Shane Carrington and 6-1 junior Kevin Odom.
Jones is also looking for help from a good 15-7 junior varsity. He said he will have more guard depth and will rotate people in and out of that position this winter. In the win over Cudahy, Odom had an excellent game at that position with nine points, seven rebounds and seven assists.
"We're going to be athletic and pretty quick," Jones said. "We'll also have depth at guard. Last year, we only had two guys who could really bring up the ball. This year we'll have more than that."
Shorewood outscored Cudahy in every quarter en route to the win. The Greyhounds pulled away with a 28-18 fourth quarter effort.
Lucas had a fantastic start with 33 points on 11-of-18 shooting from the field and eight rebounds while Glosson had 14, Carrington 10 and Odom nine.
Shorewood took on Greenfield in another Woodland game Tuesday and is off until Dec. 3, when it hosts Woodland East favorite Brown Deer.
NICOLET BOYS BASKETBALL
Despite a very green lineup, veteran coach Paul Hepp is still optimistic that the Knights can do many positive things this winter.
"I think a good description is that we're young, young and younger," he said. "We're going to have five sophomores and a freshman in this lineup. I don't believe I've ever had more than two (sophomores) at a time. The last time that happened, one of them was D.J. Marsh (an all-time Knights great) and if these kids can get close to his level that would be great."
Senior 5-11 guard Greg Pigg is the one experienced hand Hepp can rely on as he averaged 12.7 ppg last season. Nicolet was 14-9 last winter.
Others who Hepp is taking long looks at include juniors 6-2 Desmond Steward, and 5-9 Ali Doroodchi, sophomores 6-1 Keinann Ayers, 6-1 Jezzriah Burton, 6-1 Raylonzo Woods and 6-4 Max Walker. Freshman Isaiah Glidden (6-3) is also promising newcomer.
"I think we'll have good athleticism and good quickness," Hepp said. "I've been impressed with this group of kids so far. They're a great group who like each other a lot and hang out with each other a lot. Our success will depend on how hungry they're going to be.
"So far, they've been very coachable. It's been an exciting two weeks of practice as they like being in the gym. They're willing to come in and get extra work in. One day, we had a late practice and every single kid stayed an extra 20 minutes....They've rejuvenated me that way."
The Knights opened their season Tuesday against Bay View and then are at Cedarburg for their North Shore Conference opener at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 3.
— Steven L. Tietz
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