By Dan Truttschel

Sports correspondent

It’s still early and there’s plenty of work ahead, but first-year Big Foot boys basketball coach Jeff Fenrick already is encouraged by what he’s seen.

He knows this will be a process.

Big Foot returns three of its top-five scorers from last season’s team that finished 7-16 overall, and through a little more than a week of practice and a scrimmage, the Chiefs are starting to put some things together.

“I have stressed so far that we need to play harder than the other teams. (A week ago on) Saturday, we were able to do this for the most part. We scrimmaged a very physical Racine Lutheran team and handled the physicality and aggressiveness well and didn’t back down.”

Fenrick said he’s been pleased with his team’s fundamentals to this point, and he also saw something else he liked during the scrimmage.

It looks to him like this group is going to be an unselfish one.

“From what I saw, our willingness to share the basketball is a strength,” he said. “Most of the guys have figured out their roles and strengths and what they can bring to the team.”

As for what he wants his team to work on, Fenrick isn’t alone with likely many other coaches at this point of the season – and that’s on the defensive end of the court.

With several new faces in the rotation, that part of the Chiefs’ game is going to be constantly evolving.

“We handled things well (at the scrimmage) on the defensive end considering that we did not drill or prepare for anything in particular,” he said. “We are implementing some different and new ideas and also adding on to what (former coach) Mike (Dowden) was doing the last couple of years.”


Leaders emerging

Big Foot needs to replace graduated senior Beau Cary and his 16.6 points a game that led him to a first-team, All-Rock Valley Conference honor a year ago.

Fenrick will turn to senior Heath Dillenbeck (5-10, guard) and juniors Logan Eischeid (6-3, forward) and Max Hildebrandt (5-9, guard) to help fill the void.

Eischeid returns as the Chiefs’ top leading scorer after he averaged 15 points a game as a sophomore and earned second-team, All-RVC honors. Dillenbeck, an honorable mention pick, averaged 5.8 points a game, while Hildebrandt, the team’s point guard, scored 4.3 a game.

Dillenbeck is a three-year varsity player and a two-year starter.

“(He) has stepped into this (leadership) role and really leads through example and with his on-court intensity,” Fenrick said.

The same can be said for Eischeid and Hildebrandt, Fenrick said.

“(Eischeid) has stepped up and taken more of a leadership role,” he said. “I think his time as the starting quarterback has really helped in this area.

“(Hildebrandt) will be our starting point guard. He has grown dramatically over the past several years. He is playing with more confidence and also is able to take control on the court and direct the offense.”

Joining those three on the varsity roster are senior Benis Urbities (6-0, forward); juniors Christian Karabas (5-9, guard), Kaleb Greco (5-10, guard), Aidan Greco (5-10, junior), Eli Hibl (5-10, guard), Jake Trosclair (5-11, guard), Brock Schoenbeck (5-8, guard), A.J. Courier (6-5, forward), Aaron Nielson (6-4, forward); and sophomores Owen Martin (6-2, forward) and Jack Gillingham (6-3, forward).


RVC race

Looking at the RVC race, Fenrick said he sees Beloit Turner, East Troy and McFarland as the teams to watch in the new-look conference.

For the first time, the two divisions from the past have been combined into one conference.

“Losing two teams will make the RVC tougher overall now that we will have to play what used to be the RVC North a second time,” he said. “With our youth, I want to be able to gain experience and make every game a battle.”

Assisting Fenrick are former varsity head coach Dan Dowden with the JV1 program and longtime Big Foot assistant Tom Schauf with the JV2 squad.

“Dan will be a great asset to the program having been a head coach here at Big Foot and an assistant the last couple of years under Mike,” Fenrick said. “Dan has been here through the league numerous times, and this experience will be invaluable.

“Tom is a great asset as well. He is in his 13th year as the JV2 coach, and he is a great teacher of the game. He understands what skills need to be taught and how to teach them.”

Big Foot opened play Monday against visiting Williams Bay. The team will open conference play tonight (Nov. 30) against visiting Brodhead. Tip-off is at 7:15 p.m.


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