Four returning senior starters to fuel Trojan boy’s season


A core group of seniors and letter-winners return for the 2008-09 campaign for Hillsboro High: (from left) Taylor Hagen, Clay Shewey, David Loewen, Michael Klaassen, Andy Klaassen and Daniel Jost.


David Lowen battles for a rebound in last year?s game against Winfield at the Cheney Cardinal Classic. Loewen averaged 15.1 points and 10.8 rebounds last season and was a unanimous all-league first-team selection. Clay Shewey also selected for the first team and Daniel Jost received honorable mention.

With four talented varsity starters returning as seniors this season, the Hillsboro High School boys are positioned for a run at the elite of Class 3A.

Darrel Knoll (373-106) begins his 21st season as head coach feeling good about this team?s potential.

?The four seniors I have back who started last year are really good,? Knoll said. ?They really play well and they?ve all improved from where they were.

?Hopefully, we can use all their strengths to the best of their ability, and then find two, three or four guys who can come in and fill a good role and contribute in ways that play to their strengths.

?If we find the depth, I think we could be pretty good this year.?

Four at the core

The four returning starters accounted for 80 percent of the scoring and rebounding on a 13-10 team that averaged nearly 56 points and 27 rebounds per game.

For three of those seniors?David Loewen, Clay Shewey and Andy Klassen?last season was their first as varsity regulars. Daniel Jost, a four-year varsity veteran this season, was asked to switch from shooting guard to point guard a year ago.

A year?s experience in those new roles, plus greater physical maturity, should increase their productivity this season.

?Last year we came in with no varsity experience other than Daniel,? Knoll said. ?It took us midway through the year before we started to get good.

?I think we?re ahead of where we were last year simply due to our experience. Each of the guys who played last year are just better physically.?

Jost, who averaged 9.7 points for the season, regained his scoring touch late in the season after adjusting to his new role as floor leader.

?Daniel is in his second year moving to point guard by necessity, so I think he?ll be more confident in that role and more experienced,? Knoll said. ?He?s a good leader who can run the floor pretty well. He learned a lot last year and will continue to improve on that this year.

?At 6-foot-2 he?s a nice-sized guard. He?s good inside-out?he?s just an excellent player. He?s a little out of position at point guard, but I think he?s learned it well enough that he can handle it really well.?

The anchor inside is Loewen, a strong 6-5 post who averaged a double-double last season with 15.1 points and a team-high 10.7 rebounds.

?Dave is strong inside, a great rebounder,? Knoll said. ?That?s probably one of his greatest strengths?he knows how to go get the ball. He?s a lot more powerful this year, too.

?He?s got good moves inside, and also his outside shot has developed some, too. That?s not usually where he?s taking them, because we need a rebounder. But he does have the ability to knock that down.?

Shewey was the team?s biggest long-range threat last season, leading the team with 16.6 points a game. Half of his baskets (63) came from behind the arc with 43 percent accuracy.

?Clay has developed his game,? Knoll said. ?He?s really a good outside shooter. I think he?s worked hard to develop his pull-up jumper, both left and right, and he?s a lot stronger to the basket than he was last year.

?He?s grown some, too?he?s 6-3, 6-4 and a lot stronger,? he added. ?He?s definitely somebody other teams have to be aware of. He?ll draw some defensive attention away from Dave.?

Rounding out the foursome is Klassen, a 6-2 guard/forward who posted modest numbers in scoring (2.9) and rebounding (3.1), but may be the most improved player from a year ago, according to Knoll.

?His speed seems so much better, and he plays with a lot more confidence,? Knoll said. ?Defensively, I think he?s tougher on the ball than he was last year.

?The great think about Andy is that he?s willing play whatever role we need. He sets screens, and he?s got a couple of places where he really shoots the ball well.

?I think he?s going to come with the attitude this year that he?s not just a role player, but someone who should be a strong contributor, both offensively and defensively.?

Supporting roles

Four returning starters leaves Knoll with one spot to fill in the lineup, plus key reserves. The competition for those roles is wide open, but several players have emerged as primary candidates:

n Taylor Hagen (6-1), recovering from a football ankle injury, played in all but one of Hills?boro?s games a sophomore.

?Taylor has a head for the game so I think he?ll be a solid player,? Knoll said. ?Last year down the stretch he provided great minutes. He got rebounds, at times he was able to score.

?Once he gets his ankle healed up and gets in better shape, he?ll be ready to go and will help us out.?

n Nathan Vogel, 5-10 junior guard, saw limited varsity time a year ago. ?I think he does a good job playing the wing, and defensively he?s improved too,? Knoll said.

n Michael Klaassen, a 6-3 senior, saw limited varsity action in the post last season.

?Michael has improved his game and can come in and give Dave a break,? Knoll said. ?He?s a big body in there who can rebound well. As he keeps learning how to position his body, I think he?ll be a solid inside player for us.?

n Jesse Allen (6-0) has caught Knoll?s eye as a freshman.

?Jesse handles the ball really well for a freshman,? he said. ?He?s strong with the ball and understands the game, both offensively and defensively.

?We just need to keep working on developing his pull-up jumper and his ability to finish off the dribble. I think he?ll be solid as the year goes along.?

Also contending for varsity minutes are Mason McCarty (6-0 junior), Tyler Ediger (5-10 junior), Ben Bebermeyer (5-10 sophomore), Daniel Dick (5-10 junior) and Devin Funk (5-7 freshman).

?They are going to have to prove themselves not only in practice, but in the JV quarters and when they get in the game for the varsity,? Knoll said. ?They need to separate themselves out, and it?s a matter of who is going to do it.?

Season outlook

Knoll feels his team can battle for the Mid-Central Activities Association title, but will face stiff competition from defending champion Wichita Collegiate (11-0, 22-4 overall) and Hesston (10-1, 23-3).

?Collegiate has a solid core back, and with their style of ball they can pose problems for a lot of teams,? Knoll said.

?Hesston has a solid bunch back again?they have to be one of the front runners. They?ve got good size, they?ve got good guards. Those guys play really hard.?

Other threats could come from: Smoky Valley, led by one of the state?s top scorers in Chase Dippel; Lyons, who made the Class 3A tournament last season; plus Halstead and possibly Marion, who had a strong JV squad last year.

?We should be able to compete for one of the top spots,? Knoll said. ?We just need to play solid defensive, take care of the boards and play with confidence and I think we?ll be right there.?

Challenging start

The Trojans face a stiff start to their season, opening with Collegiate on Friday at Brown Gymnasium.

Then on Tuesday, Hillsboro will compete in the Cheney Cardinal Classic. The first round of pool play will pit HHS against Smoky Valley at Brown Gymna?sium.

On Friday, the Trojans take on the host school at Cheney, then will return on Saturday to face an opponent from the other three-team pool, based on the results of the previous two games.

?We?ll be playing to win, of course, but even if we lose one, two or even three of those first three games, it doesn?t mean we?re not a good team,? Knoll said.

?It?s just that we?re playing stiff competition.?

More from Hillsboro Free Press
Sub-state pairings announced for Hillsboro and Marion
Both Hillsboro High School basketball teams will open sub-state play next week...
Read More