EUREKA BASKETBALL PREVIEWS

Tom Batters

EUREKA BOYS:

With an inexperienced team, it would be nice to ease into the schedule, but Eureka boys basketball coach Tim Meiss said his team will face a tough stretch of games right out of the gate.

“We’ll have a tough tournament (at IVC) over Thanksgiving and then we open against the top teams in the conference,” Meiss said. “But, we’re going to compete. The main thing is to try to get better after each game.”

The Hornets return just one starter (Josh Prosser) and two of their top nine players from last season in which they went 14-12.

“We don’t have a lot of depth or experience,” said Meiss, who has posted a 430-229 record in 25 seasons at Eureka. “But, the kids are practicing hard and I like the effort that I am seeing from them so far.”

Meiss said the Hornets will rely on Prosser’s experience as well as his ability to play different roles.

“He has stepped up and he’s become a more versatile player,” Meiss said. “We’ll need him to be a leader on the floor.”

Seniors Christian Watson, D’Anthony Doss, Ross Knepp and Peter Hoekstra, along with junior Kyle Hinrichsen lead a list of candidates to make the starting five.

“Christian (Watson) is a very athletic kid who is a good defender and a good slashing-type of a guard. We’ll look for him to be a leader, too.”

Meiss said Doss is one of the team’s most physical players.

“He brings us a lot of energy, and he gives a great effort,” Meiss said.

He called Knepp the team’s best outside shooter. Hinrichsen is more of a traditional post player. Hoekstra is an athletic player who can play at different spots on the floor, he said.

Meiss said he will not use a deep rotation of players, so all the starters will have to play solid defense and contribute points.

“We have a lot of role players who do what they have to do on the floor,” he said.

Meiss said his team will push the ball up the court and try to control the tempo of the game in order to make up for its lack of size.

“We’re not going to be the biggest team, but, if we can play our style, then we can compete,” he said.”

Eureka opens its home schedule Dec. 3 against Olympia.

EUREKA GIRLS:

In his first season, Eureka girls basketball coach Adam Zehr led the Lady Hornets to 20 wins and a Regional title.

Of course, having Caty Eeten, one of the most prolific scorers in school history, helped a lot.

Eeten graduated, but Zehr is not pacing the gym floor wondering how he will ever replace her.

“She was a great player. We’ll miss her. But, I like the players we have coning back,” Zehr said. “We have a lot of athletic players who can score and play good defense. I’m excited about the season coming up.”

The goals still are high, Zehr said — win all the regular season tournaments, finish in the top 3 in the conference, win 20 games and bring home another Regional title.

“Central Catholic is head-and-shoulders above everyone else ion the conference, but we feel we can be in the mix, too,” Zehr said.

Central Catholic went 32-1 and won the Class 2A state championship last year. Several players, including the two leading scorers will return this season.

The lineup...

It all starts with junior point guard Kalla Gold, the leading returning scorer from last season.

Gold, fresh off an all-state cross country medal, set the school record for most three-pointers in a season last year (67). She is a two-time all-conference selection.

“She’s very fast and experienced,” Zehr said. “We feel good about her ability to run the offense. She is also a defensive stopper.”

The second-leading returning scorer is sophomore Michaela Balducci.

“We can put her at guard or forward,” Zehr said. “She’s very flexible. She’s one of those players who has had success in other sports (volleyball), so she knows how to compete and win. She’s a very good athlete.”

Standout volleyball player Shelby Kupferschmid will also contribute as a guard and forward.

“Her skills have improved tremendously, Zehr said. “She’s our best jumper.”

Zehr said he is hoping to get back his tallest player, 5’11” junior Kayla Bryant, who is recovering from an ACL injury.

“It’s been nine months since her surgery. We hope to get medical clearance for her pretty soon,” Zehr said. “She is a very good player with a lot of skills. She will give us a big post presence.”

Zehr said he is counting on seniors Katy Boggs, Kelsey Heinold and Natalie Puent to provide leadership.

“They have been in the program for four years, he said. “They great examples to the younger players.”

He said junior Kelsey Young will also play an important role.

“She’s another one who can play guard or forward,” he said. “We’ll ask her to handle the ball a little for us.”

Eureka opened the season Monday at LeRoy. It’s home opener is Dec. 2 against Prairie Central.