Tritons to rely on experience, balance
In his fourth decade on the sidelines as Iowa Central head men’s basketball coach, Dennis Pilcher has a group of returning sophomores anxious to take the team to the next level.
The Tritons went 21-12 last year and made a run to the Region XI championship before falling to Southwestern. That team was led by NJCAA Div. II Player of the Year Tray Croft, who is taking a redshirt year with the University of Northern Iowa this season.
So while Croft must be replaced, Pilcher has returning starters Collin Shannon, Royshawn Webb and Dallas Bailey back, along with several other key contributors in the fold.
“It’s been a pretty good preseason for us,” Pilcher said. “Practice has been easier because of all the sophomores coming in with an understanding of what we want to do.”
Bailey averaged just under 13 points and six rebounds per game last season, with Webb chipping in 11 and six. Shannon posted almost six points and four rebounds per game from his guard position.
“We’ll be a more balanced team this year,” Pilcher said. “With Tray, I can’t remember having someone average as many points per game for me as he did. We tend to be pretty balanced, and I can see us being that way this season.
“Dallas is a guy that can go off for 20 to 25 points any night. Royshawn made the biggest improvement from the first day of practice to the end of the season of any player I’ve ever had, and Collin also made tremendous strides last year.”
Sophomores Kane Kramer, Bay Etheredge, Aspen La Pointe, Kemryn Jenkins and Jaden Kephart are also helping provide leadership to the incoming class of newcomers.
“The sophomores are all hard-working kids,” Pilcher said. “Everybody can’t start, but those guys that come off the bench, they can make key contributions for us in several different areas.”
That group includes sophomore transfer Quintavius Eagle, along with freshmen Bryce Armstrong, Jacorian Dalton and Kendrick Foster. Eagle played in 27 games last year for Colby, a Div. I junior college school, averaging 6.6 points per game.
“Quintavius has some size and length, and he can run the floor,” Pilcher said. “Jacorian is a big kid from Alabama who has already made a lot of improvements. Bryce and Kendrick are two guys that can provide depth for us at the guard positions.
“Those freshmen have talent, but they need to continue to work on their skills and blend in.”
The Tritons begin ICCAC play Dec. 5 at home against Kirkwood. The Eagles are ranked fifth in the preseason poll, with Southwestern sixth and Iowa Lakes 20th.
Pilcher will be assisted by veteran coach Chad Helle and newcomer Ky Kramer.
“Ky’s been a big addition to the staff,” Pilcher said. “Along with Chad, they are both guys who are making big contributions to the program.”
IOWA CENTRAL MEN’S BASKETBALL
Sophomores — Collin Shannon, Kane Kramer, Royshawn Webb, Bay Etheredge, Dallas Bailey, Quintavius Eagle, Aspen La Pointe, Kemryn Jenkins, Jaden Kephart.
Freshmen — Bryce Armstrong, Jesse Moss, Austin Jarvis, Jacorian Dalton, Kendrick Foster, Ibrahima Diallo, Dylan Hay.
Nov. 6 — Marshalltown; 9 — Northeast at Hawks Classic; 10 — Central-Columbus at Hawks Classic; 13 — Grand View JV; 16 — Metropolitian at DMACC Classic; 17 — County Upper Academy at DMACC Classic; 20 — at Southeastern; 26 — at Marshalltown; 30 — North Dakota State College of Science in Great Western Classic.
Dec. 1 — Northeast in Triton Classic; 5 — Kirkwood; 7 — Northeastern in Council Bluffs; 8 — Labette at Reiver Classic; 14 — Lake Region State in Baymont Inn Classic; 14 — North Dakota State College of Science in Baymont Inn Classic.
Jan. 5 — Iowa Western; 9 — at NIACC; 12 – Ellsworth; 16 — at Little Priest Tribal; 19 — Iowa Lakes; 26 — DMACC; 30 — at Southwestern.
Feb. 2 — at Iowa Lakes; 6 — NIACC; 9 — Simpson JV; 13 — at Kirkwood; 16 — Southwestern; 20 — Little Priest Tribal; 23 — at Ellsworth.
March 2 — at DMACC.