Marian Central Catholic High School, Woodstock High School and Woodstock North High School boys basketball teams will kick off their seasons in a tournament that has encourage sportsmanship and supports cancer awareness and fundraising. They will play in the annual Hoops For Healing Tournament beginning at 5 p.m. Monday, Nov. 20 through Wednesday, Nov. 22.
The Hoops for Healing tournament was started in 2000 by former WHS athletic director Doug Smith, who is a two-time cancer survivor. His successor, John Van Fleet, kept the tournament going and has been battling cancer himself. Van Fleet has returned to WHS on a couple of occasions to address the players about his battle. All proceeds from the tournament will be donated to the Centegra Sage Cancer Center.
The tournament is co-hosted by WHS and WNHS. Monday/Wednesday games will be held at WNHS and Tuesday games will be at WHS. The six high schools participating are: Antioch, Cary-Grove, Marian Central Catholic, Round Lake, WHS and WNHS.
“I think this tournament is a great way to start our season as it helps put the games in perspective,” said WHS head coach Al Baker. “We use it as an opportunity to talk with the boys about who they know that has been affected by cancer and to remind them how fortunate they are to be healthy enough to compete.”
The Fellowship of Christian Athletes at both schools will be running a food drive in conjunction with the tournament. The head coach at the school that collects the most donations will receive a pie in the face.
Following is a preview of each Woodstock boys team, compiled from surveys of coaches.
Marian Central Catholic High School
Head coach: Curtis Price
Assistant coach: Scott Truckenbrod
Varsity roster: 12-15 boys
Top returning players: AJ Golembiewski, senior; Kevin Herbst, senior; Jonny Preston, junior.
Promising varsity newcomers: Jakub Baranski, sophomore; Dan Dusick, junior
Goals this year: Price: “To compete and improve every day.”
Challenges: Price: “With the majority of our student-athletes on the football team and their deep run in the playoffs how long will it take for us to build chemistry.”
Woodstock High School
Head coach: Al Baker
Assistant coaches: Jay Justice, Dick Baker, Brian Heidtke, Dustin Smith
Varsity roster: 15
Top returning players: Mikey Gardner, senior; Evan Bridges, junior and Carl Anderson, junor
Promising varsity new-comer: Andrew Adams, junior
Goals this year: We want to win a conference championship. We have finished .500 or better in conference five years in a row, but have not yet finished at the top and I think we are capable of doing that this year.
Challenges: We aren’t going to be very big this year, but we can shoot. Last year we made 229 3-point field goals, which was far and away the most that a team has made since I’ve been here. Most of them – 172 – came from four guys who are all back again this year (Anderson, Bridges, Gardner, David Shinherr). I would think that that would continue to be a strength.
Woodstock North High School
Head Coach: Dale Jandron
Assistant Coach: Drew Jandron
Varsity roster: 15
Top returning players: Colin Mergl, Ryan Schaffter, Joe Haynes and Braeden Given
Promising varsity new-comers: Zach White, Matt Fallow and Carter Coalson.
Goals this year: Our goal this year is to compete night-in and night-out and create a solid team atmosphere for the entire program. I want boys to be excited about playing basketball together and love the game. We need to come in with the attitude that despite our injured teammates, others will step up and have the winning attitude and get the job done. We are working to build a solid program at all levels and bring in traditions to Woodstock North boys basketball.
Challenges: Losing our leader and four-year starter Colin Mergl and Joe Grover to injury is going to be a big hurdle to start. Getting the boys to trust each other and gel together with minimal playing experience from last season will also be a problem. Lack of size could be an issue until the big guys return.