New England focused on filling gaps and pushing tempo
Finishing the 2021-22 season in the quarterfinals, as the No. 9 seed, the New England Tigers are looking to compete come postseason. Success will not be guaranteed in the robust contest of Region 7, but their returning upperclassmen’s athleticism and experience could see leaders step up.
Their winning 13-10 record last season was largely thanks to their seniors. Point guard Nathan Kaufman was their All-Region player and power forward Zack Jalbert was said to have brought grit to their team by their head coach Kaine Hanson. The Tigers’ culture and team chemistry has remained, despite the key losses and will not easily be deterred from their goal of performing in the regional tournament.
“We have three seniors and one of them started for us last year. The other two, this will be their first time they play meaningful minutes on varsity and then we bring back two of our juniors that were starters for us last year,” Hanson said. “So we have a little bit of experience, but we are going to need a couple of more juniors to step up and hopefully some sophomores can step up and help us a little bit this year.“
They will be led by their returning senior forward Matthew Bock. Bock had 28 three-pointers from last year and garnered 29 assists. The other two seniors that will be experiencing more varsity time are Justin Katherin and Jess Schultz.
Three juniors coming into the season with experience are Tallen Binstock, Jaren Rafferty and Brock Ehlis. Binstock is one of the most proficient three-point shooters in the state in Class B with 31 treys last season. Ehlis collected 19 steals, 14 shots from beyond the arc and 27 assists. Rafferty could help fill that post presence left by Jalbert. He finished last season averaging four rebounds per game and averaged just under six points per game.
“We have to get team rebounds because we are not very big, so we are going to have to get after it and chase down rebounds and loose balls,” Hanson said. “Otherwise, that will be our downfall if we allow the team to get second or even third shots.”
Their tallest player, sophomore Theodore Korrschemann is six foot, five inches, but has limited varsity experience. Hanson is hoping he will be able to adjust to more minutes on the court at the varsity level. Knowing the competitive nature of Region 7, Hanson is expecting a lot of scoring and that good movement and getting up and down the floor will determine their success.
“Teams like to get up and down the floor and we are going to have to play fast as well because it is hard to grind things out in the half court if you are not very big,” Hanson said. “The goal is to always make that regional tournament and see what happens. See if there is any March of Madness.”