Herscher High hoopsters aim to pick up where last season's late surge left off
When a coach with more than 500 career victories has a good outlook on his team's season, opponents better take notice.
That's the case with this year's Herscher boys basketball team, as Head Coach Ron Olofsson – he of the 514 wins, 432 in his first 23 seasons with the Tigers – has five of his top six players from last year's squad back this season.
Of course, that will require navigating a tough schedule, with some of the school's football players – who made a deep run in this year's playoffs – back into the swing of things after a late start.
“But if we improve like I think we will, by the last month of the season, when things really matter, we will be right where we want to be,” Olofsson told the Kankakee Times.
A key to this season will be to get off to a good start, something the Tigers didn't do in the 2015-16 campaign. However, they finished strong and made the regional semifinals en route to a 16-13 record.
Herscher has the nucleus to get off to a strong start. All-Interstate 8 Conference and All-Area senior forward Luke Hertz is back after averaging 10 points and six rebounds per game last season. Junior guard Tyler Jarnagin (7 points, 4 rebounds per game) also earned postseason honors, getting special mention all-conference and All-Area honorable mention.
Also back this season is junior forward Tyler Stewart (9 ppg, 6 rpg), senior forward Tyler Jones (3 ppg, 2 rpg), senior guard Trevor Bergs (2 ppg) and senior guard Mark Krygowski.
Three starters and two key bench players from last season's regional-title-winning team are back this season for head coach Adrian Provost.
Seniors Dylan Post and Tevin Watson and junior Jalen Chavers are the returning starters, while seniors Chris Bell and A.J. Barnes were last season's sixth and seventh men.
“A good group of committed seniors is ready to make a run at another regional title and possibly more,” Provost told the Kankakee Times.
Nine letter winners, including four starters, from last season will be looking to improve this season on the 4-24 record from 2015-16.
Head coach Joe Lightfoot III told the Kankakee Times that last season's squad was young and undersize, with just two players who previously played varsity minutes. Turnovers hurt the team, as the Kays committed 25 per game.
However, he said the team got better as last season went along and has matured a lot.
“This group is really looking forward to starting this year," Lightfoot said. "They have been practicing hard and staying focused on doing things the right way consistently. We plan on overachieving and creating exciting sports memories that will not only entertain, but also help galvanize our community to come together to support and make a change in our school and community culture.”
Returning starters are senior Tyron Hundley, and juniors Sion Lightfoot, Lavelle Hill and sophomore T.J. Wicks.
Seniors Jason Henning, J. Thomas and Drew Boudreou are the returning lettermen from last year's Boilermakers, who went 19-8.
Other seniors on this year's squad are Dazhee Horton and Marvin Walker Jr.
Note: Not all schools responded to requests for information from the Kankakee Times by press time.