Overcoming the losses of Jameson McHale and Austin Conn will not be easy, but head coach Kevin Murawski and the Lutheran North Mustangs will try and prove they are still a team against the Clarenceville Trojans on Tuesday night.
The Mustangs will return three starters from the previous season. Eli Thaut, Drew Arft and Jack Hilt will all need to step up after losing the two leading scorers of last season. McHale tallied 13.0 points, 5.1 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game, while Conn added 11.4 points and 6.8 rebounds per game last season.
Thaut will give the Mustangs the ability to push the ball with authority. Last season, he turned the ball over just under twice per game, but should have no problem improving on the already impressive statistic. When Thaut dishes the ball, he loves to find Hilt, who averaged 8.7 points per game last year. The 6-foot-5, 230 pound junior averaged a surprising 1.5 steals per game, which was good for second on the team.
Lutheran North brought up Arft at the end of his freshman year, but was even better in an injury written sophomore season. Arft averaged an amazing 14.1 points per game, but was only active for nine games due to a shoulder injury that kept him out for the end of the year. During those nine games the shooting guard found no trouble scoring from anywhere on the floor. He will find multiple opportunities in Lutheran North's fast pace offense.
Considered a role player last year, Adam Collins will get the start. The senior is a great defender with a beautiful first step, which will allow him to snag good chuck of steals. Kasey Lesnau will start alongside Thaut, Arft, Collins and Hilt. Lesnau, a junior, was 1-of-5 players to partake in all 21 games during the 2014-15 season, which ended in a loss to the New Haven Rockets in Districts.
On the bench, Lutheran North will have key players Mitchell Visbara, Michael Barno and Kevin Kapanowski at their disposal. Each and every one displayed a hustle factor in practice that will translate into important in-game minutes. Barno did not play for Lutheran North last season, but will serve as an important post player in backup of Hilt. Three-point specialist Jake Schinkai will not be active for the game on Tuesday.
The Trojans will be led by seniors Mitchell Kubiak, Anthony McNeil, Quentin Banks, Da'Veon Burnett and Chris Bryant.
Lutheran North will look to avenge a 60-57 loss against Clarenceville in February of 2015. The win against the Mustangs was the only home victory for the Trojans that season. Hilt led the remaining Mustangs with seven points.