Rockford and Delano coaches optimistic
BY DAVID PEDERSEN
The Rockford and Delano boys basketball teams open the season this weekend with optimism.
Rockford opens at home against Jordan, 7:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 30, while Delano is home against New Ulm, 1:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 1.
Last season the Rockets finished 6-8 in the Central Minnesota Conference. Coach Michael Tauber has seven seniors and seven juniors, only a couple with extensive varsity experience.
“We are optimistic about season because we will play an exciting style to watch,” said Tauber. “We may not be a top team, but we will be good enough to win games we should and hope to upset some others. We expect to compete in every game and create some excitement.”
The seniors are paced by captain Jordan Redepenning, plus Alex Shaikowski, Ben Arens, Jesse Gabler, Joey Richardt, Karsten Paulson and Logan Suko. Arens and Shaikowski will miss the opener with injuries.
The top returning scorers are juniors Nick Tully and Brock Deering. Only four seniors graduated, but one was Nick Monssen, one of the all time scorers and rebounders in school history.
Other juniors include Brendon Schumacher, Robert Dumas, Joe Agre, Brody Harstad and Witthuhn.
“Our identity will be defense and hard work,” says Tauber. “We will go with quickness and an up and down style. A lot of players were committed in the summer and took part in a fall league.”
Both Delano and Rockford came on strong last season to advance in the section playoffs. Rockford made it to the semifinals and Delano lost to Rocori in the section title game.
The Tigers only lost two seniors from a team that finished 22-7 overall and 13-3. Center Grayson Pulis was a big presence under the basket, averaging 12 points and eight rebounds per game.
Returning seniors are guards Zach Checkal, Adam Schleper and Dalton Pulis, plus forwards Arick Neisen and Zach Muckenhirn. Junior guard Toby Hanson emerged as one of the team’s leading scorers. Junior forward Damon Longstreet was a key factor down the stretch.
Checkal and Hanson were All-Conference last year. Coach Terry Techam said junior guard Seth Norling will add team depth. Muckenhirn missed much of last season with a leg injury. Checkal was slowed by injury the last half of the recent football season.
The Tigers also play at Watertown-Mayer, 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 4 and are home against Big Lake, 7:15 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 6.
Rockford plays at home against Norwood-Young America, 7:30 p.m. Dec. 4 and at home against Annandale, 7:30 p.m. Dec. 6.
The two teams face each other Tuesday, Dec. 11 at Delano in a non-conference game.