Photo by Diane Cox
Pictured are members of the Marquette boys’ basketball team for ‘15-16. In front from left to right are: Jayce Maag, Bryce Pettiford, Terrell Burton, Nick Messinger, Reagan Snider, Shandon Boone and Chris Hartrich. Standing in back from left to right are: JV coach Mike Stratton, Trey Aguirre, Tim Derrington, Trevon Collins, Ben Sebacher, Nick Hemann, Duncan McLain and head coach Steve Medford.
Marquette Catholic head coach Steve Medford is poised for a stellar season from his Explorers.
Marquette returns three starters and its sixth man from last season's 18-12 squad. The Explorers fizzled after starting the season 9-2, ultimately losing to the host Panthers in the Class 3A Jersey Regional 39-26.
In 2015-16 they find themselves back in the Class 2A ranks for the playoffs and with a more veteran and experienced squad.
“I think we're further ahead than we were last year at this time,” Medford said. “I think offensively we're going to be a lot better than we were last year and in the same token defensively we're playing pretty good right now. I expect a lot from the seniors. We've got a good corps of seniors back that are going to lead us on both ends of the floor.”
Those seniors include three returning starters in guards Trey Aguirre (5-foot-11), Shandon Boone (5-8) and center Ben Sebacher (6-5). Seniors Trevon Collins (6-5) and Tim Derrington (6-3) will provide some depth and height, too.
Boone transferred to the Explorers from CBC as a junior and burst onto the scene as a pure shooter. He led them with 16.6 points per game and was dangerous from beyond the 3-point line.
“When you got a guy coming back like Shandon that can fill it up and put the ball in the hole it's going to make it very difficult for other teams,” Medford said. “We expect a lot out of Shandon.
“There are three tier players, a guy that can shoot the basketball, somebody that can get all the way to the hole and then can recognize a defense and stick a 10 to 15-foot shot. I think (Boone) has developed his game to be more aggressive. Inside the lane he's being much more aggressive.”
It will be hard for the Explorers to replace departed starters from '14-15 Max Goepel and Jacob Fischer. Medford said that will be a group effort.
“I don't think you replace a Goepel or a Fischer,” Medford said. “They're both 6-4 kids and have a lot of length and played great defense for us, but we've got four of our corps guys back and four other guys that can possibly fill those spots. Each night it's going to be a different guy based on who we're playing.”
Medford praised sophomore guard Reagan Snider (6-0). Snider was the first man off the bench as a freshman and brought tons of energy. With a summer to progress Medford said he will start this season and be leaned on in the lineup.
“Reagan will definitely be starting,” Medford said. “He's played really well this summer. He's a kid that puts in a ton of time and really wants to get better. When you've got a guy that puts that much effort into it he's going to improve and he's improved a lot.”
Juniors Nick Messinger (6-0), Bryce Pettiford (5-10) and Duncan McLain (6-1) will work into the mix, too.
The Explorers kick off the season in the Metro East Lutheran Thanksgiving Tournament at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday vs. New Athens. Marquette is the top seed in Pool B. The Explorers play Cleveland at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday and then enter the bracketed portion of the tournament on Oct. 27 and 28.
“It's going to be good competition for us,” Medford said of the MELHS Tourney. “You've got Waterloo Gibault, Roxana who is pretty good and Metro East Lutheran who has a lot coming back, so (including us) there's four teams that could win it. If you don't defend well and don't rebound well you can lose to anybody, but going into that tournament it's a good way to find out where we're at and it gives us a good opportunity to get a couple wins for sure.”
The rest of the schedule includes tough non-conference contests like Civic Memorial, Madison, Highland, Roxana, Gibault, Freeburg and Breese Central, as well as the Columbia/Freeburg Holiday Tournament, the Jersey Tournament and the Pinckneyville Shootout. The Prairie State Conference will offer some tough obstacles in MELHS and Nokomis early on, too.
“We only have five games in conference so we only play one time around. Metro's going to be very tough and Nokomis is always good in the conference,” Medford said. “When you start talking about the non-conference schedule that's when it gets real difficult for us.”
NAME HT POS
Trey Aguirre 5-11 G-F
Shandon Boone 5-8 G
Ben Sebacher 6-5 C
Trevon Collins 6-5 C
Tim Derrington 6-3 F
Nick Messinger 6-0 G
Bryce Pettiford 5-10 G-F
Duncan McLain 6-1 G-F
Terrell Burton 6-0 G
Reagan Snider 6-0 G
Chris Hartrich 5-8 G
Nick Hemann 6-4 C