Photo by Bill Roseberry
(Front, from left) Shandon Boone, Reagan Snider, Ryan Ely, Trey Aguirre, Harvey Howell, Duncan McLain, Danny Holtz, Nick Messinger and Bryce Pettiford; (back, from left) head coach Steve Medford, assistant coach Mike Stratton, Joshua Quinn, Jacob Fischer, Ben Sebacher, Max Goepel, TIm Derrington, assistant coach Charlie Huebner and assistant coach Larry Lowis.
Life without Deion Lavender won’t be easy for the Marquette Catholic Explorers, but head coach Steve Medford said it’s far from a death sentence for the program.
The Explorers were 22-7 in 2013-14, led by Lavender’s 25.3 points per game. Now Lavender is playing basketball for the Southern Illinois Carbondale Salukis and Medford is looking at moving on.
“You’ve got Deion you’ve lost and you’ve lost some real critical seniors and we’ve had a program that’s built on — in my opinion — some successful kids and some pretty good players,” Medford said. “This is going to be a different-type year. We’re going to have to have some kids step up. We’re going to be young, but in the same token I think what we’ve established here are a bunch of kids that expect to win. I don’t think the expectations have changed one bit with these guys.”
In four years at the helm of the Explorers, Medford has compiled a 96-27 record and seen the program nab three regional titles.
He looks to a couple of bigger returning players to pace the squad this year. Max Goepel, a 6-foot-4 senior guard, and 6-6 junior center Ben Sebacher will provide a presence for Marquette. Goepel averaged 5.5 points per game as a junior, while Sebacher chipped in 3.3 ppg. in limited action as a sophomore.
A junior transfer from CBC in St. Louis at guard has Medford excited for the upcoming season, too.
“With Shandon Boone coming in, we expect a lot from him,” Medford said. “He’s a new kid that came in and we expect a lot of good things from him. You will hear his name a lot.”
Boone is a 5-8 guard who will be joined in the backcourt by Goepel, 5-11 junior Trey Aguirre and 5-11 freshman Reagan Snider.
Senior forward Jacob Fischer, 6-4, who averaged 4.5 ppg. last season, will also provide scoring punch for the Explorers. Fischer will join Sebacher, Goepel, Boone and Aguirre to round out the starting lineup. Snider will be the first man off the bench.
The length Marquette possesses has Medford stoked.
“We’re going have length,” he said. “We’re going to be 6-4, 6-4, 6-6 and that’s some length for high school basketball. Then we’ve got some guards that as long as we can take care of the basketball, rebound well and get 50/50 balls, I think we’ll be OK.”
Schedule-wise, Medford tried to keep the docket stacked with competition. Non-conference games like Civic Memorial, Jersey, Highland, Mascoutah, Madison, Gibault, Breese Central and Freeburg as well as the Pinckneyville Shootout will offer some obstacles. The Explorers also remain in the Freeburg-Columbia Holiday Tournament and the Jerseyville Tournament in January, but have returned to the Turkey Tip-Off at Metro East Lutheran to kick off the season.
“Our schedule is pretty tough,” Medford said. “We still have the same schedule we had last year other than going to the Metro Tournament at the beginning of the year. Our schedule is not shying away from competition. Our non-conference schedule is going to be pretty much the whole Mississippi Valley Conference. It’s good for us.”
The Turkey Tip-Off will showcase 18 teams this year and gives Marquette a chance to pick up a lot of early games to warm up for the season. The Explorers open with Staunton at 5:30 p.m. Monday at MELHS.
“It’s a lot of games early and I think that’s good for us, because ultimately we will get to see where we’re at,” Medford said. “We have a lot of kids that are willing to work hard and do things right and are very, very coachable. This is probably the most enjoyable group of kids I’ve been around since I’ve been here from the standpoint of wanting to be coached, wanting to win and wanting to do what it takes to win.”
MARQUETTE EXPLORERS BOYS’ BASKETBALL SCHEDULE
Nov. 24-29 – Metro East Lutheran Turkey Tip-Off Tournament
Nov. 24 – vs. Staunton, 5:30 p.m.
Nov. 26 – vs. New Athens, 6:30 p.m.
Nov. 28 – at Turkey Tip-Off, TBA
Nov. 29 – at Turkey Tip-Off, TBA
Dec. 2 – at Civic Memorial, 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 5 – at Nokomis*, 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 9 – at MELHS*, 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 16 – vs. Madison, 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 20 – vs. Jersey, 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 26-30 – Freeburg/Columbia Tournament, TBA
Jan. 6 – vs. Mount Olive*, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 13 – vs. Bunker Hill*, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 16 – vs. Mascoutah, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 17-24 – Jerseyville Tournament, TBA
Jan. 30 – vs. EA-WR*, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 31 – at Pinckneyville Shootout, TBA
Feb. 10 – vs. Highland, 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 13 – at Roxana, 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 17 – vs. Gibault, 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 20 – at Breese Central, 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 27 – at Freeburg, 7:30 p.m.
*Denotes conference games.
MARQUETTE EXPLORERS BOYS’ BASKETBALL ROSTER
Coach: Steve Medford
Record last season: 22-7
Career record at school: 96-27 (4 years)
Joshua Quinn, 6-0 F
Jacob Fischer, 6-4 F
Max Goepel, 6-4 G
Danny Holtz, 6-1 G
Trey Aguirre, 5-11 G
Shandon Boone, 5-8 G
Harvey Howell, 6-0 F
Ben Sebacher, 6-6 C
Tim Derrington, 6-2 F
Nick Messinger, 6-0 G
Bryce Pettiford, 5-8 G
Ryan Ely, 5-11 G
Duncan McLain, 6-1 F
Reagan Snider, 5-11 G
Goepel, a 6-4 senior for the Explorers, will look to supply some much-needed offense in ‘14-15. Goepel averaged 5.5 ppg. a year ago, which is the most from any returning player. He will provide some mismatches with his size at the guard position and will look to shoot from outside, too.
A hefty-sized junior for Marquette, Sebacher is listed at 6-6 and has some bulk to be a paint presence for the Explorers. As a sophomore he averaged 3.3 ppg. in limited action. He will be a focal point inside this season as the Explorers try to take advantage of their length as a team.