By Anne Homan
Pictured above, from left to right, (back row): Coach Grant Fodness, Jeffery Klock, Coach Jacob Hinker, Tate Gerdes, Owen Niederbaumer, Pierce Temme, Ethan Lundquist, Layton Smith, Trey Gerdes, Emory Lefers, Coach Kyle Johnston, Coach Chris Buckmiller; (front row): Talan Diercks, Jaxon Plank, Conner Eich, Porter Ihnen, Andrew Daugherty, Braeden Wulf, and Braxton Musser. Photo by Anne Homan
This Friday, Dec. 9 the Lennox High School boys’ basketball team will get their 22-23 season underway as they travel to Sioux Falls Christian. The Orioles haven’t beaten the Chargers in nine years, but head coach Chris Buckmiller is hoping to start the season off on a strong note.
“It’s a great test right out of the gate to see where we are at,” said Buckmiller. “We are ecstatic to get our season up and running. We had a great off-season with our guys putting in a ton of work in the gym and in the weight room.”
Buckmiller led the Orioles to a 16-6 record last year in his first season as head coach. Prior to coming to Lennox, Buckmiller coached two years in Rockford, IL, one year in Stoughton, WI and served five years as an assistant at Sioux Falls Roosevelt.
Assisting him this season will be Jacob Hinker, Junior Varsity head coach, Grant Fodness, C-team head coach, and Kyle Johnston, varsity assistant.
The Orioles bring back several talented key players but will be without Jackson Arlt, Carter Van Houten, Steven Christion, and Hunter Gabriel, all of whom graduated last spring.
Porter Ihnen returns to the team along with Jaxon Plank, Braeden Wulf, Conner Eich, Andrew Daugherty, Braxton Musser, Talan Diercks, Trey Gerdes, Ethan Lundquist, and Pierce Temme.
Buckmiller is also expecting big things from Layton Smith and Tate Gerdes along with Emory Lefers, and Owen Niederbaumer.
“This year we have a great combination of players who were in the rotation from last year and new guys who will have an opportunity to prove themselves,” said Buckmiller. “Our biggest strength this year will be our player leadership. We have spent a great deal of time talking about player led teams and how those are the type of teams who reach their full potential.”
Buckmiller took five of the leaders on the team and together they read “The Hard Hat”.
“We had a discussion about what it means to be a great teammate,” added Buckmiller. “When people come and watch the Orioles this year, they will see a team full of positivity and belief in one another.”
Buckmiller also noted the team will emphasize the defensive end more than they did last season.
The team’s season begins this Friday, Dec. 9 on the road against Sioux Falls Christian, a team Buckmiller believes will be one of the top once again in the area, along with Dakota Valley, Tea Area, and Dell Rapids. The game against Sioux Falls Christian will be a double header with the LHS girls. Varsity boys are scheduled to tip-off at 8 p.m. and the varsity girls at 6:30 p.m.
Buckmiller also looks for Sioux Valley, St. Thomas More and Winner to bring strong teams to the court this season but Lennox hopes to battle with the best of them.
“We had a great season last year and have an excellent opportunity to build off of it and take another step forward,” said Buckmiller.
Following their match-up against Sioux Falls Christian on Friday, the Orioles will take on Milbank in another double header game with the LHS girls on Saturday, Dec. 10. Varsity boys are scheduled to tipoff at 4:45 p.m. and the varsity girls at 3:15 p.m.