Boys Basketball: Dragons have some work to do
Litchfield must replace some top talent to enjoy another top season
LITCHFIELD — Though there are three players with starting experience back, the Litchfield boys basketball team feels like it will be starting fresh in 2020-21.
That’s because Avery Liestman, Tyson Michels and Ben Alsleben from the class of 2021 meant so much to the Dragons’ success last season.
“We have a whole new team,” head coach Matt Draeger said. “We’re trying to learn a little bit about our guys and what we can do.
“We have a good senior group that has played a lot. I like our kids. We’ll see.”
Liestman and Michels were West Central Tribune All-Area selections. Liestman, a first-teamer, is now playing baseball at Itasca Community College in Grand Rapids. Michels, a third-teamer, was an Academic All-Stater. Alsleben, a fine football quarterback as well as a point guard, is playing football at St. John’s University.
Being asked to step up and fulfill larger responsibilities are Beau Weseloh, Dom Dietel and Alex Draeger. All three were starters for last season’s 15-6 squad that tied for third in the Wright County Conference West Division with a 9-5 record.
“We have to figure some things out,” Draeger said. “None of these guys were primary scorers. I think we lost 60 to 70 percent of our scoring and that’s what a coach is worried about is how to get those points back.”
Weseloh is a 6-foot-3 senior forward who averaged 6.7 points, 5.2 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game.
Dietel is a 6-4 senior forward who suffered a knee injury and missed most of his junior season. He had a good football season.
Draeger, the coach’s son, is a 5-11 junior guard who averaged 6.1 points per game, shooting 42% from 3-point range.
Players to watch include seniors Logan King, Tanner Kohls and Elijah Schacherer, junior Tyler Pennertz and sophomores Jack McCann and Blake Aller.
King is a 5-9 point guard who backed up Alsleben last season. Kohls is a 5-11 guard who played in 17 games last season. Schacherer is a 6-1 forward. Pennertz is a 6-3 forward. McCann and Aller are guards.
“It’s a whole new season,” said Matt Draeger, who is in his fifth season as head coach with a 69-38 record. His assistants are Justin Wittrock, Dylan Koll and Jon Johnson.
“We have to fill a lot of roles and figure out who can defend and who can score. We’re kind of starting over.”
Draeger expects Annandale, Rockford and Glencoe-Silver Lake to be top teams in the Wright County West. New London-Spicer and Watertown-Mayer also should be good, too.
“We figure to get better every game,” Draeger said. “Our conference is really hard and really tough. We see that as a way to prepare for March.”