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Area Big Nine, Gopher Conference boys basketball previews

December 2, 2017 GMT

BIG NINE CONFERENCE

AUSTIN

Head coach: Kris Fadness, 25th year (395-234 record).

Last season: The Packers are coming off an excellent season in which they placed second in the state in Class AAA with a 29-3 record. The Packers were second in the Big Nine with a 20-2 record and then won the Section 1AAA title.

Who’s gone: Kyle Oberbroeckling, Oman Oman, Both Gach and five other seniors.

Top returners: Duoth Gach (Sr., 6-4, forward, All-Conference, 15.5 ppg), Tate Hebrink (Sr., 5-11, guard, All-Conference, 10.8 ppg); Moses Issa (Sr., 6-1, forward, 5.6 ppg).

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Top newcomers: Nyagoa Obany (Sr., 6-4, forward); Logan Braaten (Sr., 6-2, forward); identical twins Ngor Deng (Jr., 6-0, guard) and Dongrin Deng (Jr., 6-0, guard).

Strengths: Athleticism and guard depth. The Packers should be primed again to make a strong run at a Big Nine and Section 1AAA title despite the loss of Both Gach. Both is the twin brother of Duoth Gach and he transferred to a prep school in Arizona for his senior season.

Weaknesses: Size.

Coach’s comments: “We expect to be competitive in (the) tough Big Nine and section,” Fadness said.

RED WING

Head coach: Drew Olinger, 2nd year (7-20 record).

Last season: The Wingers finished 7-20 overall and 10th in the Big Nine with a 5-17 record.

Who’s gone: Kipp Adams (14 ppg), Christian Massett (13 ppg), Jawon Terry (10 ppg).

Top returners: Teddy Tauer (Sr., 6-0, forward, 7.4 ppg); Seth Yeatman (Sr., 5-11, guard, 7.9 ppg); Nathan Carlson (Sr., 6-5, forward, 7.0 ppg, 4.0 rpg).

Top newcomers: Zach Cota (Jr., 6-0, guard); DonTray Johnson (Soph., 5-10, guard); Marcus Walm (Jr., 6-2, forward); Tre Moore (Sr., 6-1, forward); Mac Desutter (Jr., 5-11, guard).

Coach’s comments: “Entering my second season I feel like we have a good amount of student-athletes that have bought into the programs philosophy and are ready to make a big impact,” Olinger said. “This year many of our guys will have more freedom on the offensive side of the ball compared to last year which will hopefully lead to a more efficient offensive attack. We will need to compete from the start in each and every game because the Big Nine is a difficult conference with many talented players.”

GOPHER CONFERENCE

BLOOMING PRAIRIE

Head coach: Nate Piller, 3rd year (20-33 record).

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Last season: The Blossoms finished 10-16 overall and 4-8 in the Gopher Conference.

Who’s gone: Seth Bedenbaugh Zach Piller Ben Smith.

Top returners: Cameron Kubista (Sr., 5-10, guard, 2nd on the team in assists, 1st in steals);

Jake Ressler (Sr., 6-8, forward, 2nd in scoring, 1st in rebounds, 1st in blocked shots);

Max Romeo (Sr., 5-11, guard, 2nd in steals, 3rd in points); Nick Thompson (Sr., forward); Gabe Hagen (Soph., 6-2, forward, team MVP, All-Conference player, 1st in points, 1st in assists, 2nd in rebounds); Kaden Thomas (Soph., 6-2, guard, 5th in scoring).

Top newcomers: Cory Wagaman (Sr., 5-7, guard); Jeremy Hocking (Sr., 5-9, guard); Kory Rafdal (Sr., 6-0, guard); Timothy Wolf (Jr., 6-0, guard); Trent Swenson (Jr., 6-2, forward).

Strengths: Varsity experience.

Weaknesses: Size, rebounding.

Coach’s comments: “We need to find guys that want to play defense, guys on the court who take pride in getting stops,” Pillar said. “We need five guys on the court who want rebounds more than anything. We need guys that are willing to outwork anyone. We’ve got to get much better defensively and finish possessions with rebounds.”

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