Coaches, players ready to get to practice in basketball and wrestling

Chris Bowie
Boonville Daily News

With the fall sports season winding down, the general consensus is that area coaches are beginning to focus on basketball and wrestling for the 2020-21 season. 

The Boonslick area is no different as teams from Boonville, New Franklin, Pilot Grove, Bunceton and Prairie Home opened winter practice on Monday, Nov. 2.

Although the season is still over three weeks away for some, the Boonville boys and girls basketball teams were just glad to be back in the gym.

Boonville Lady Pirates basketball coach Jaryt Hunziker said 20 girls in grades 9-12 participated on the first day of practice.

Hunziker said like most years the main focus for the first week is to get their basketball legs underneath them. “Due to the way we play, I always tell the team that everything looks better once we are in better condition,” Hunziker said. “We improve this by keeping practices as uptempo as much as possible going segment to segment with short breaks in between. Throughout the afternoon we emphasized our transition game and pace/space by getting up the floor quickly.”

Hunziker said the defense was also introduced by breaking it down into drills that let the team understand what they are looking to do. He said they then put it all together just so they can see how the whole picture will look like. 

“The team also spent some time on skill development that focused on some of the fundamentals needed to perform,” Hunziker said. “I was very pleased with the effort/intensity and how well the girls played together sharing the ball in certain offensive drills. We all know that once we get in better condition that practices will start to come together and everything will look smoother.”

Boonville Pirates basketball coach Mark Anderson welcomed 16 players in grades 9-12 on Monday but added that they are still missing a lot of football players and a few soccer players.

“I would guess that we are missing at least six of our top 10 projected varsity players,” Anderson said. “We will be able to start putting some things in this week, but for the most part we’re waiting to put most of our defense, plays, and concepts in until we get the rest of our players. Being in my second year here at Boonville and having so many guys that return from last year makes it a little less stressful about not having all of our guys here for a while, because I think that for the most part we’ll basically hit the ground running whenever we get all of our players at practice.”

Anderson added that the first day of practice is always exciting and fun. He said it’s great to get the guys together and start working on things and teaching things. It also reminds you that the first game is just around the corner, he said.

As for the Boonville Pirates wrestling team, head coach Justin Hahn said he had 12 wrestlers out for the first day of practice but is expecting around seven or eight kids when football finishes.

“My goal for practice is to start with the basics and then move forward to upper-level technique,” Hahn said. “The first month will be teaching my drills and then I will put them into action. I’m sure you have heard over and over, but every practice is a gift. Some states are having wrestling, and some are not. We are putting safety first with our COVID protocols. I am an advocate for wrestling and will trail the kids to be the best they can be on and off the mat.”

At New Franklin, boys head coach Ross Dobson said the first day went well with the limited number of restrictions.

Dobson said he had 14 at practice with six players at home quarantined. “It was exciting to be back in the gym, and we have to continue to improve on all aspects of the game moving forward,” Dobson said. 

New Franklin girls coach Morgan Vetter said the Lady Bulldogs return 11 players to the roster this year. She said for the first day of practice she saw a lot of grit and heart and sees good signs of improvement. 

At Pilot Grove, boys head coach Derek Skaggs said 19 boys came out this year, which is the most the Tigers have had in the eight years that he has been there. “We took off at 6 a.m. on Day 1 and plan to practice as usual,” Skaggs said. “We will deal with the daily struggles one day at a time.”

Pilot Grove girls coach Linda Scott said she had 11 players out for practice on Monday. Scott said the first practice just seemed so strange with masks and social distancing. “The girls worked hard but emotionally I felt everyone was fearful of the future,” Scott said. “Players know schools are closing everywhere. We ended practice with a pizza party, but I have noticed that coaches have to work very hard to lighten up the mood this season.”

At Bunceton, which is co-oping with Prairie Home, girls coach Dustin Ray said he has eight girls playing basketball this year. “We are in a good situation with the amount of returners,” Ray said. “We return 3 of 5 starters and three others with a large amount of playing time last year. I’m excited for the season to begin.”

Prairie Home boys coach Trever Huth said his team is going through COVID problems right now. He said he is still missing three kids from Prairie Home that haven’t been to practice yet. 

Boonville senior Kale Rice attempts to pass the ball while being guarded by sophomore Jackson Johns during the first day of practice Monday at Hannah Cole Elementary School gym. Boonville Pirates basketball coach Mark Anderson said 16 boys suited out for the first day of practice.
Boonville senior Jodie Bass drives in for a layup during a drill Monday at the Windsor gymnasium. Boonville Lady Pirates basketball coach Jaryt Hunziker said 20 girls in grades 9-12 participated in the first day of practice.
Boonville Pirates wrestling coach Justin Hahn instructs two wrestlers on how to use the chin drop during a match Monday in the high school wrestling room. Hahn said a total of 12 boys and girls participated in the first day of practice with seven or eight more to join the team at the conclusion of the football, soccer season.