After a 19-9 finish and earning its first district championship, the Jefferson boys varsity basketball team might be expected to take a step back this season. But don’t tell that to the Blue Jays and head coach Sean Breeze.
“This team is quite different from last year’s team,” Breeze admitted. “We don’t have the same perimeter offense, however, this will be one of the most athletic teams I’ve ever coached. We are going to need to continue to work on our perimeter shooting, but lots of defense that will hopefully turn into offense will be a big part of the plan.”
They say games aren’t won on paper, and that’s a great thing because, on paper, the Jays have lost a ton. The obvious loss is Easton Null, who averaged 20 points a game, and hit more long range bombs than opponents would care to remember. But the loss of names like Bridges, Eisenbeis, Holdinghausen, McWhorter, and Gosnell takes a lot away from that powerful team from last year. Here are the numbers…gone are 39.2 points per game, 16.3 rebounds, 10.7 assists, and 6.3 steals. Those are numbers that can’t be ignored, yet Breeze is undaunted. “I am very lucky to have three returning seniors with the leadership capabilities these young men have.” He’s talking about Jon Weik, Levi Ebersoldt, and Hadyn Wagner, the three young men looked upon to guide the young Jays to the next level.
Weik returns as the reigning JCAA Conference MVP. He was also an all-district selection that averaged 17 points and seven rebounds a contest. “Everybody knows about Jon,” Breeze commented, “and I’m sure he will draw lots of attention from opposing defenses this season. But he has really improved his game over the off season. Jon stepped up for us big time last year on the way to his player-of-the-year recognition, and we look to him to continue leading us on both ends of the floor.” Breeze continued praising his returnees. “Ebersoldt started every game last season and does a great job on defense and on the boards. He’s also one of our team leaders on and off the floor. And we will be leaning on Wagner to run the team from the point guard position, and he also provides us with a threat from the 3-point line.”
But remember that last year’s JV team lost just one game, and many of those players now come to make their marks on the varsity. “Outside of the three returning seniors, everybody else will be new to the varsity team this season,” Breeze noted. “There are a few players who got a few varsity minutes last season in Colby Ott, Daylen Whitener, Nolan Roth, and Colton Richardson. Ott will be one of our best defenders who provided us with a spark off the bench on occasion during last season. Whitener has a good mid-range game which is unique in today’s game. Roth will be helping Wagner out with the point guard duties. Unfortunately, Richardson is out until at least January with a broken collarbone sustained during football season.” The rest of the varsity roster will include senior Brandon Perry, and juniors Will Schnitzler, Ethan Boyer, Masen Wilson, and Dawson Jakoubek.
“My only expectations are that I think we can be competitive with every team on our schedule,” Coach Breeze explained. And that schedule will be a challenge. “We have a very difficult schedule this season,” he said. “Last year, there were quite a few good, young teams that return most starters, so our entire schedule is going to be a challenge this year. I don’t see any easy games anywhere on the schedule. Hopefully the high level of competition will keep us sharp.”
That high level of competition begins a week from tomorrow when the Blue Jays participate in the Rolla “Duke” Herbert Basketball Tournament at Crystal City. Jefferson gained the #2 seed and will play at 5:00 p.m. against the St. Louis Patriots, the #7 seed. For a look at the complete bracket, follow this link: Herbert Basketball Tournament. The entire winter schedule can be found here: Winter-Sports-Schedule-19-201