Photo by Bill Roseberry
Senior members of the Civic Memorial boys' basketball team are (from left) Brandon Alexander, Caleb Buhs, Jakob Lowrance and Zack Lehnen.
BETHALTO — Things are looking up for the Civic Memorial High boys’ basketball team this season.
The Eagles, boasting one of the tallest teams in school history, are striving to build on last year’s success. CM registered an 18-11 record and emerged as a player at 6-4 in the congested Mississippi Valley Conference.
“I think we overachieved last season,” third-year coach Doug Carey said. “We had a bunch of good seniors that wanted to stop the bleeding and they went out and proved it.”
In the process, the Eagles enjoyed their best season since going 22-7 in 2007-08. They were 14-15 in Carey’s first year.
Now, they are seeking similar, if not more, winning ways. With 6-foot-8 senior Jakob Lowrance and 6-7 Caleb Buhs, they have plenty of size up front. The remainder of the starting lineup could include 6-3 junior Brett Lane, 6-3 senior Zack Lehnen and 6-0 junior Adam Hill.
“We have some size, so if we can handle the ball, that’ll be a key for us,” Carey said. “I’d say it’s wide open in the conference. It’s anybody’s game.”
Lowrance, a 265-pounder getting courted by area colleges, figures the Eagles can extend what they started last season.
“We have to play together and play good defensive basketball,” said Lowrance, who announced Nov. 14 that he’s going to NCAA Division II defending champion Central Missouri State in Warrensburg. “We need to play with a lot of energy. If we do that, we can do well in the conference.”
He averaged 15.6 points per game and 7.2 rebounds — both best for the Eagles — a year ago.
“I just want to do the best I can and help out the team,” Lowrance said.
Carey added, “Jakob has improved his game tremendously the last three years. We’re hoping to get a double-double (points and rebounds) from him every game. I thought he was the best player in the Valley last year and he has a chance to be the best one this year.”
CM starts its season next week in the Stove Top Stuffing Tournament. The Eagles debut against Taylorville in a 7:30 p.m. home game Monday. Triad, Granite City and Nokomis also are participating in the weeklong tournament.
“Overall, we have a little more length than we had last year and I think we are also quicker,” Carey said. “But we lost a lot of toughness from that senior class. Those seniors were mentally and physically tough.”
Buhs could supply some of that rugged play around the basket and also complement Lowrance with solid shooting.
“Caleb is very athletic and if people double-team Jakob, it’ll give Caleb more opportunities,” Carey said. “Everybody knows that our offense will go through Jakob.”
Lane averaged 6.0 ppg and gave CM a lift the second half of last season.
“He’s one of the guys we have that can shoot it well,” Carey said.
So is Lehnen, a starter part of the 2013-14 season and “a good 3-point shooter,” Carey said.
Hill, the quarterback on the football team, has a comparable assignment on the court.
“Adam’s our point guard and hopefully, he will be running the show,” Carey said.
Brenden Ricci, a 6-2 junior forward, and David Lane, a 5-10 sophomore guard and Brett’s younger brother, expect to log ample playing time. The same goes for 5-8 sophomore Jaxsen Helmkamp, 5-8 sophomore Brandon Hampton, 5-10 junior Justin Williams, 5-11 senior Brandon Alexander and 6-3 junior Austin Reams.
Carey’s confident the Eagles can continue along the victory trail and string together a good number of wins.
“Talent-wise, we are so much better than we were three to five years ago,” he said. “We’re more athletic. We just have to be mentally and physically tough and put everything together.”
CM EAGLES BOYS BASKETBALL SCHEDULE
Nov. 24-25, 28-29 – Stove Top Stuffing Tournament
Nov. 24 – Taylorville at CM, 7:30
Nov. 25 – CM at Triad*, 7:30
Nov. 28 – Nokomis at Granite City, 6
Nov. 29 – CM at Granite City, 7:30
Dec. 2 – vs. Marquette, 7:30
Dec. 9 – at Highland*, 7:30
Dec. 12 – at Jersey*, 7:0
Dec. 16 –vs. Mascoutah*, 7:30
Dec. 19 – vs. Roxana, 7:30
Dec. 26-27, 29 – at Freeburg Tournament, TBA
Jan. 10 – at Waterloo Gibault, 6:45
Jan. 13 – at Granite City, 7:30
Jan. 17, 20, 23-24 – at Litchfield Tournament, TBA
Jan. 27 – at Mater Dei, 7:45
Jan. 30 – vs. Waterloo*, 7:30
Jan. 31 – at Pinckneyville Shootout, TBA
Feb. 3 – vs. Columbia, 7:30
Feb. 6 – vs. Jersey*, 7:30
Feb. 10 – at Mascoutah*, 7:30
Feb. 20 – vs. Triad*, 7:30
Feb. 24 – vs. Highland*, 7:30
Feb. 27 – at Waterloo*, 7:30
*Denotes conference games.
CM EAGLES BOYS BASKETBALL ROSTER
Coach: Doug Carey
Record last season: 18-11
Career record at school: 32-26 (2 years)
Jakob Lowrance, 6-8 C
Caleb Buhs, 6-7 F
Zack Lehnen, 6-3 F
Brandon Alexander, 5-11 G
Brett Lane, 6-3 G
Adam Hill, 6-0 G
Brenden Ricci, 6-2 F
Justin Williams, 5-10 G
Austin Reams, 6-3 F
Jaxsen Helmkamp, 5-8 G
David Lane, 5-10 G
Brandon Hampton, 5-8 G
At 6-foot-8 and 265 pounds, the senior Lowrance looks to be the focal point for the CM offense. He returns after leading the Eagles in points (15.6 ppg.) and rebounds (7.2 rpg.) last season.
Buhs only averaged 1.0 ppg. and 1.2 rpg. in limited action in ‘13-14, but standing 6-foot-7 as a senior, he looks to be a nice compliment inside to Lowrance. Buhs can also step out and shoot from the perimeter.