boys_basketball_150Following their blazing start to tip off the 2013-14 boys’ basketball season, the second-ranked Marion Local Flyers suffered their first loss of the season on Monday night against the Celina Bulldogs.  There is little time to sulk however, as they return home this Friday to entertain the 7-5 St. Henry Redskins in a Midwest Athletic Conference showdown.  The contest kicks off a three-game league stretch for head coach Kurt Goettemoeller’s crew that includes pivotal games at Versailles and Delphos St. John’s over the course of the next two weeks.

The Flyers’ 9-0 start to the season included league wins on the past two Fridays against Minster and New Knoxville, and if they want to continue their unblemished mark in conference play, they need to shake Monday’s 19-point setback to the Bulldogs off in a hurry.  “Our kids have been playing hard, but with limited practices we are getting by because we have some talented kids,” Goettemoeller explained.  “Celina kind of exposed our lack of fundamentally-sound play; I think as we get out of this run of games and have more opportunities to work in practice, our fundamentals will improve thereby enhancing our overall play.”

Marion Local is led on both sides of the court by Division I recruit Luke Knapke who averages 14 points, eight rebounds and two blocked shots per game, while Ryan Bruns hits for 10.7 points and 2.2 blocks each time he steps onto the court.  Senior Adam Bertke is picking up nine points per contest and is labeled as the most active defender in his squad’s suffocating 3-2 zone defense.  “Our defense has been solid in half-court, but we would like to be able to do more in the full court when we get time to work on it,” remarked Goettemoeller.  “St. Henry will be a challenge – obviously when you have a Ryan Mikesell, containing him will be a big key. What concerns me is that they have other kids who can shoot the perimeter and they play well together. Coach Rosenbeck and Coach Cramer will have a great scheme to attack our zone Friday so we must be ready.”

The Redskins are searching for consistency as the middle of the season approaches.  They are currently 2-1 in MAC following their setback to Versailles last Friday and have notched conference victories over Minster and New Knoxville.  Outside of their loss to Versailles, St. Henry’s other four losses have been by a combined ten points and two have been in overtime while the other two were on buzzer-beaters.  They upended Anna on Saturday evening last week, fueled by a ten-point outburst from Mitchel Stammen in the final period.  Ryan Mikesell has continued to have an outstanding season with more than 23 points per game, while also leading the area in rebounds with nine each time out.    “Versailles just flat out beat us – we had a bad game, they played well, and we lost,” explained St. Henry head coach Eric Rosenbeck.  “I wish there was more to it, but there isn’t.  We are hoping that loss ignites us with a sense of urgency.  We need to take more charges, get on 50/50 balls, etc.  It should be a heckuva battle with Marion Local – they pass the ball very well, so we need to pressure them like crazy and box out.  Second-chance points are a key for them, so we need to limit those opportunities in order to have a chance to win this week.”

by Robb Hemmelgarn