ORIGINALLY WRITTEN TOM STOPPEL
Chuck Kern flashes a brief smile when asked about his third season as coach of the Canton-Galva High School boys’ basketball team.
“I finally have guys who have been in my program for a couple of years who know how things are expected to be done,” Kern said.
“If we become a strong defensive team and are able to push the ball on offense, we could be one of the better teams in the league.”
Those are lofty aspirations for a team that finished 5-16 last season, but CGHS football coach Zac Hoppes can attest that such a turn around is possible in one year.
“Attitude wise, anytime you have a good football season, you hope that carries over into your basketball season,” Kern said. “Our expectations are up this year, especially my own.”
Those expectations are fueled by the return of three starters along with three talented reserves.
On the disappointing side, starting center Nick Wedel (6-foot, 4-inch) will miss the season due to a football injury.
“We’re going to have to be built on speed,” Kern said. “Losing Nick (8 points, 6 rebounds) for the season will cause some matchup problems.”
But Kern prefers to focus on who’s back and not on who isn’t. That list revolves around senior guard/forward Seth Moddelmog (5-foot, 10-inch), who averaged 14 points and four rebounds last season.
“Seth finds ways to get to the basket and has a good enough shot he can shoot the three when defenders sag off of him,” Kern said. “He uses every ounce of his ability to its full extent.”
Also returning is 6-2 junior guard Travis Myers, who averaged seven points and two steals.
“Travis is one of the most gifted shooters I’ve ever coached,” Kern said.
The third returning starter is 5-10 junior guard Stephen Jowers, who averaged five points and two rebounds.
“Stephen really worked hard on improving his ball handling this summer, and we’ll need him to push the ball while eliminating unforced turnovers,” Kern said.
Also considered by Kern to be integral factors are 5-10 senior Cameron Mapes, who averaged three points and two steals, Joel Hardman, a 6-3 junior guard/forward who averaged four points and three rebounds, and sophomore guard Ted Regehr (6-3), who averaged four points and three rebounds.
Mapes is the team’s best defender, according to Kern. Hardman “has a basketball players body” and Regehr “sees the court better than any player we’ve had at CGHS,” he said.
“This year we’re going to be eight or nine deep, so we’re going to try to press if we can do that without fouling,” Kern said. “We’ve really been working on our transition this year.”
Hoping to catch the opposition’s defense before it has the opportunity to set up, Kern said the Eagles will push their offense to the limit.
“Our best looks (on offense) will probably come within the first 10 to 12 seconds of our possession,” he said. “More kids will play and there will be more shot opportunities.
“Last year we had to pull the ball out from the tip-off if we wanted to compete, but this year we’re more athletic.”
Duplicating the success enjoyed this fall by the football team will require a simple concept, Kern said.
“We have to stay healthy and maintain team chemistry, which I don’t think will be a problem,” he said. “If we can do those two things, I really believe this team has the opportunity to have a strong season.”