Team loses top three scorers to graduation; top rebounders return

By Kevin Cunningham

Correspondent

Delavan-Darien High School has a new man leading its boys basketball team for the 2016-17 season. Chris Hembrook, a Delavan-raised man who has a self-described passion for basketball, took over as head coach.

He played high school basketball and has coached various sports at the youth level. Over the past five years, Hembrook was the assistant coach for the Comets’ boys basketball team under former head coach Bob Beighton, so Hembrook knows the system and players that he has to work with.

“I’ll have my own identity,” the first-year head coach said. “I’m taking a lot of stuff from Bob, and I’ve learned a lot from Bob and a lot from Delavan’s girls coach. My identity is playing fast, but you play with the talent you have. In college, you recruit. In high school, you don’t. At Delavan, we have athletes. We’re not big, but we’re very athletic.”

A season ago, the Comets went 13-10 and lost in the first round of the postseason. This year, the team will look fairly different, as its top three scorers graduated, leaving its top two rebounders from last year to be its highest scorers returning.

Brandon Edmonds and Seth Kirsch are the two top rebounders returning, averaging 8.9 points and 6.7 rebounds and 6.9 points and 5.7 rebounds per game, respectively, a season ago. Hembrook said Edmonds and Kirsch will fit into his new system.

“We lost three big scorers, but what people don’t know is that we have three kids coming back that didn’t play last year,” he said. “Tommy Hummel is back from a shoulder surgery and he missed the whole season. We have Ethan Cesarz, who just made all-conference in football. He’s back.

“Freshman and sophomore year he was on varsity and then junior year he wanted to concentrate on football because he wanted to play D-I. He’s coming back, and he looks really good. Mike Alder did the same thing – he’s back. There are three kids that are seniors, who are good basketball players that weren’t on the team last year.”

As Hembrook mentioned, the team might be losing its top-three scorers from a year ago, but in come three seniors who have playing experience and are athletes that fit his system. He said the team will also have depth this season.

“I have nine or 10 kids that can start,” he said. “It’s all about who works hard at practice. We’re going to play fast, so the starting five doesn’t matter. We’re very deep, and I have an outstanding assistant coach in Hank Johnson.”

Hembrook said his team has a legitimate 11 guys with whom he feels completely comfortable. He said his team’s experience is also positive, as the Comets will have six seniors. Rebounding will be a focus as well, considering where the team has ranked in rebounds per game recently.

“Back in 2010-11, we were tall,” he said. “But since then, we have been last in conference in rebounding. That’s my main focus this year is that I don’t want to be last. We’re not the tallest team, but rebounding is a focus. Defense is a focus. I want to hold teams to under 50 points per game while playing fast. That sounds contradictory, but we want their percentages to be low.”

The Comets’ season starts Saturday at Fort Atkinson, but in scrimmages and for Game 1, Hembrook said he wants his team to instill its will on teams and he wants his team to know how good it is. Delavan-Darien’s first home game is set for a 7:15 p.m. start Monday against Clinton.

“I’m excited,” Hembrook said. “I’m very excited to be leading the program. My biggest thing is that I want nothing but the best for Delavan. We’re going to be fun to watch. We have athletes that just have to learn to trust each other and play as a team, but if they want to be good, they can be good.”

 

 
 

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