SOUTH BELOIT—A freshman and a senior will anchor the inside.
A cadre of sharpshooters will keep defenses honest. And a hard-working core of players could turn into an outstanding defensive unit as well.
Those are the prospects of the South Beloit boys basketball team, which will make its season debut Wednesday night at Newman Central.
SoBos coach Matt Stucky doesn’t hesitate when asked if this could be the best team he’s coached in his seven-year tenure.
“It definitely could be,” Stucky said. “We’ve got to figure things out defensively and make sure our energy is right. They are still getting used to playing with each other. We could absolutely compete for a conference title. We don’t have a lot of gaps offensively. There’s a lot out there you have to guard.”
6-foot-7 freshman Ross Robertson is already being touted as one of the area’s top players, and for good reason.
“Ross really does everything well,” Stucky said. “We can put him anywhere and he’ll be successful. From a scouting perspective, you can’t say ‘Oh we can do this, and take him out of the game.’ He’s going to have some games where he just dominates but doesn’t score a lot. He can just be a rebounder or screener, or protect the rim defensively. Without him, we would’ve been good. With him, we’re going to be a really tough team.”
He will be joined in the frontcourt by 6-foot-5 Bradley Knepper who is tough to stop underneath.
“We’re going to have more of an emphasis this year of looking inside,” Stucky said. “We’ve had some good post players in the past, but a lot of times we’ve played more of a perimeter game. Brad and Ross play really well together. They understand they can feed each other, and from a shooting perspective, you’re going to get a lot of open shots.”
While the SoBos are certainly strong inside, Stucky believes the backcourt will be solid as well.
“It starts with Rence Kostka,” Stucky said. “He’s our point guard and he improved a lot over the summer. He got a little varsity time last year, but he got a lot better practicing against our varsity guys. He’ll go and push the ball, and he’s got a toughness to him. He plays with great pace.
“And we’ve got a number of shooters that can get hot at any time. Blake Ayotte went downstate for the three-point contest as a freshman. Tanner Joiner set the single-season three-point record last year by shooting 45 percent. Aidan Finn can just get ridiculously hot and hit five in a row. We want to play fast, but we don’t want to be hurried. We’ve got all the parts, it’s just going to be about the chemistry we can develop.”