Returning senior Connor Mitchell is one of the players to watch this season on the East Troy High School varsity boys basketball team. Mitchell, Will Iloncaie  and Matt Kaminski  were second-team All-Rock Valley Conference picks last year. (Eric Kramer file photo)

Returning senior Connor Mitchell is one of the players to watch this season on the East Troy High School varsity boys basketball team. Mitchell, Will Iloncaie and Matt Kaminski were second-team All-Rock Valley Conference picks last year. (Eric Kramer file photo)

Trojans return four standout starters

By Dan Truttschel

Correspondent

Even as they appeared to be “rebuilding” the past couple seasons, the East Troy High School boys basketball team more than held its own.

And now that the new core of standout Trojans has reached their senior year, it’s time for that group to take yet another step.

That could be bad news for the opposition, but very good for East Troy.

The Trojans return four starters, a key reserve and have a talented transfer student in the fold after a 2013-14 campaign that saw them finish 17-8 overall and advance to the sectional semifinal, where they fell to eventual Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association Division 3 state champion Brown Deer.

Expectations and enthusiasm are high once again, coach Darryl Rayfield said this week.

“We’re not very big, but we shoot it pretty well,” he said. “If we can find a way to rebound and stop some people, we’re looking at a nice year.

“Things are in place to be pretty good. We always have that goal to have a solid year, go after the conference championship and make a run in the tournament. There’s no reason we can’t.”

Leading the Trojans into the new season are seniors Will Iloncaie, Connor Mitchell and Matt Kaminski, who were second-team, All-Rock Valley Conference picks last year, along with junior Joe Ciriacks, who was honorable mention.

Iloncaie was second in scoring a year ago with 266 points, followed by Kaminski with 248, Ciriacks with 210 and Mitchell with 207.

Another junior, Justin Growel, is expected to start and gives the Trojans a solid five-some of returning players, Rayfield said.

“We have five pretty solid kids (there),” Rayfield said. “Those guys have been through some big games and have been around stuff for a while.

“The expectations are pretty high. They know what we ask and the things we do. We’re looking forward to having those guys back.”

Rayfield said another positive is his team’s overall balance – he’s confident production can come from any number of players on any given night.

“That’s something we haven’t had,” he said. “As a group, they do everything equally as well.”

And if that talent-laden group wasn’t enough, the Trojans added junior transfer Jake Remza to the fold, and he will have an impact as well, Rayfield said.

“He’s about 6-3, he’s really long and has played a lot of summer basketball,” Rayfield said. “He’s a decent athlete. He gets his hands on a lot of basketballs, he’s a good rebounder, he’s good around the rim, he’s a good athlete.

“It’s worked out really well, and we’re just happy to have him. He’s a great kid, a good student and gets along with the kids. That’s one of the things that’s nice.”

That balance and the ability to do a number of different things with the basketball will go a long way for the Trojans, Rayfield said.

“They all can put it on the floor, they all can score in different ways,” he said. “Having multiple skills as a group is a strength.

“A weakness obviously, is we’re not very big. Hopefully we can find a way to rebound so we can run a little bit.”

Rule change plays role

Rayfield said one question mark that exists is how a rule change regarding defense will affect the game, and more specifically, his squad.

In the past, defenders were allowed to have a forearm on the offensive player, but that no longer is the case, and depending on how officials enforce that rule, life for pressure-oriented teams could change greatly.

Regardless, it will be an adjustment

“(At the scrimmage), I thought the whistle was blown consistently and really quickly,” Rayfield said. “I think they’re getting the message out there. That’s going to dictate how you play some nights and is going to be a factor.”

Looking at the RVC, Rayfield said it appears there is solid balance from top to bottom.

That hasn’t always been the case, but this year, anybody can win on any given night.

“I think this is the toughest the league has been,” Rayfield said.

McFarland, which fell in the sectional final, and Jefferson should be among the teams to watch in the race toward the title, Rayfield said.

The Trojans will get a quick look at what McFarland has to offer, as they host the Spartans next Thursday, Dec. 4, in the season opener. Jefferson visits Tuesday, Dec. 9, in what will be a tough early-season challenge.

Both home games begin at 7:15 p.m.

 

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