Tigers looking to have stellar season again

by Greg Ceilley
of The Review staff

BRYCE PEDRIN, shown last season driving to the basket, will be counted on to be a key scorer for the Howards Grove Tigers’ basketball team this season. – Photo by Terry Schaller BRYCE PEDRIN, shown last season driving to the basket, will be counted on to be a key scorer for the Howards Grove Tigers’ basketball team this season. – Photo by Terry Schaller HOWARDS GROVE – The Howards Grove Tigers return only one starter from last season’s outstanding boys basketball team but they have the potential to have a another very successful campaign,

Wade Georgeff, the Tigers’ new head coach, is very upbeat about his squad.

“I expect us to compete for the Big East Conference regular-season and tournament championships,” said Georgeff.

“We are a young team in regards to experience – only returning one starter and two other varsity players from last year. With that said, we are very athletic, have above-average height and we are a deep team. If we can come together on the defensive end we should be able to have a special season.”

Senior forward Caleb Holzman is the Tigers’ returning starter from last season’s team which swept the BEC titles and advanced to the Division 4 sectional finals for the second straight year.

HG finished 21-5 overall (13-0 in the BEC regular season) and gave eventual state champion Whitefish Dominican quite a battle before falling, 52-45, in the sectional finals. The Tigers also lost to eventual state champion Dominican in the sectional finals in 2015.

Holzman was named All-BEC honorable mention as a junior. He led the Tigers in blocked shots with 31 (1.3 average per game). Holzman averaged 6.1 points, 3.5 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game last season.

He tied for second on the team in assists per contest. Holzman, the Tigers’ Defensive Most Valuable Player last season, ranked fourth in the league in blocked shots with a 1.2 average.

Joining Holzman as returning letter winners are senior guard/forward Bryce Pedrin and junior forward Eric Reinemann. Pedrin ranked second on the HG team in scoring last season at 10.8 per contest and led in three-point goals with 50. Reinemann had a 6.1 scoring average as a sophomore.

The Tigers’ top scorer last season was Devin Gallenberger who graduated. Gallenberger, a unanimous All-BEC first-team pick and D-4 allstate honorable-mention selection, averaged 20.0 points per game. He was also the Tigers’ top rebounder with a 6.0 average.

The coach expects Pedrin, Holzman, Reinemann and junior forward Derek Stauss to be key leaders. Georgeff pointed out varsity newcomers who have impressed him.

“Malik Muhammad [senior guard] – a super athletic kid who has a ton of skill. He is taking a leadership role on this team – encouraging and helping the other players. I look for him to have a big year on the court and help this team on both ends,” said the coach.

“Derek Stauss – a solid post player on both ends of the floor. He will fill a much-needed void and should have a very good junior year.

“Jack Baldwin – a sophomore guard who is an excellent ball handler. He seems to be more relaxed and getting better every day. He is an exciting player and a very coachable kid.

“Peter Grimm – a tremendous defender and a good ball handler. He’s a great decision-maker who can knock down the open shot.

“Isaac Dirker – tall and athletic. He can knock down shot on the outside and will have to play some minutes down low. Has a lot of tools to be a very good player,” said Georgeff.

Georgeff was asked how much of a challenge it will be this campaign after losing eight seniors off last season’s squad.

“We as a coaching staff talked to the guys about not being concerned about last year and the success they had because we are not the same team. With that said, it’s always hard to replace a big group of players like that,” said the coach.

“We have to take it one day at a time and continue to get better. I will say though, because of the success, it has made these kids hungry for more. That kind of attitude is always a plus.

“I’m very excited about coaching these players and being a part of this program. They have a lot to be proud of here from the past couple of years and I just want to build off of that,” said Georgeff who replaced Eric Worth who resigned after three seasons in order to take the head boys basketball position at Sheboygan North.

“I love this community, and the people here are very supportive of their children and athletics.”

Georgeff’s wife, Heidi, is the HG girls basketball team’s head coach. He was a standout basketball player at Oostburg High School and Marian College in Fond du Lac.

He pointed out the team’s strengths and weaknesses.

“Our strengths would be our athleticism, height and speed. Our weaknesses are our inexperience in varsity games. Rebounding will be a main focus of improvement, the rest will come with time,” said Georgeff, a 2000 Oostburg High graduate.

He pointed out the keys for the Tigers to have success this season:

“We come together as a team and play for each other. We’ll need to play unselfish basketball offensively and trust each other defensively. If we can do those things, I truly believe the sky is the limit.”

Georgeff sized up the conference race.

“I think on any given night anyone in the Big East can win. There are a lot of really good basketball players and a lot of great coaches in this conference,” he said.

“I think if we can come together earlier then I anticipate, we can contend for the title. Hilbert, Oostburg, Sheboygan Christian all have a great opportunity to win it all.

“Our top goal is to be holding the gold ball [state championship trophy] in the middle of the Kohl Center floor [at UW-Madison]. But before that we have some goals that include winning the regular-season conference title, the conference tourney, regionals, and then sectionals,” said Georgeff.

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