Yorkville’s boys basketball team posted an impressive 20-win season last year. But in order for the Foxes to do it again, it’s going to have be with a different cast of characters.
Nearly all of the key players from that 20-8 team that lost in the regional final to Aurora Central are gone. Four seniors are back, but all of them played in a reserve role last year.
“We graduated pretty much everybody,” Yorkville coach Dan McGuire said. “All were off the bench. Those four seniors, they’re old, but they’re limited in experience. I have four sophomores up with us right now. They may play with us on varsity. We’ll figure it out as we go along. They deserve to play varsity basketball. They all worked hard in the offseason. It’s a positive.”
The player with the most experience coming back is last year’s sixth man, point guard Brett Assell. Football player Josh Gengler is a center that saw minutes off the bench last year. Forward Taylor Carter and Cody Knudsen also come back.
“Brett contributed quite a bit last year,” McGuire said. “Gengler is a physical kid, a football player. His shot improved, footwork, all the little things are starting to come together for him. We need Taylor to score for us to be successful. He’ll be one of our shooters. Cody is really quick, a receiver on the football team, tough kid. He’s also improved his shot quite a bit. He’s taken on a leadership role. He’s grown up a lot.”
Of the sophomores, Josh Bondurant figures to make the most immediate impact.
“He’s one of the best athletes in the school,” McGuire said. “He’s been very coachable. He’s been a big surprise for us. He’s willing to learn. That’s kind of rare these days, to have a kid with talent who is coachable. He likes to attack the rim.”
Junior Dakota Gette excelled on the sophomore level last year and is being counted on in a key role on the varsity level this year.
Despite a relatively new roster, McGuire’s goals never change.
“My goal is to improve on last year’s team,” McGuire said. “I think my biggest thing is that I want them, due to our lack of experience, to improv every week. We want to keep making strides.”
The Northern Illinois Big 12 is a tough league, as evidenced by the Foxes’ 5-5 conference record a year ago. This season figures to be no different. McGuire expects Morris and Rochelle to be the favorites, especially if Indiana football recruit Danny Friend decides to play basketball for Morris this winter. The Redskins are still alive in the Class 5A football playoffs.
“It’s going to be a lot like last year, three losses are probably going to win it,” McGuire said. “We’re all going to beat up on each other. It’s a physical conference. Anybody can win it. We’re all really even and play similar styles.”