Boonville boys basketball team looks to reload for 2020-21 season

Chris Bowie
Boonville Daily News

The Boonville Pirates basketball team know how close they were last year to winning a district title and advancing on to the postseason.

After finishing 20-6 overall and 6-1 in the Tri-County Conference in 2019-20, the Pirates will look at the last two minutes and 50 seconds against the Helias Crusaders in the district championship game as a building block for this season.

Boonville head coach Mark Anderson said his team has a chance to have another great year. “We return six of our top seven players, including four of our starters from last year’s team,” Anderson said. “This will be the biggest team that I’ve ever coached, with Charlie Bronakowski at 6-6, DJ Wesolak at 6-5, Lane West at 6-4, Kayle Rice at 6-4, and Jamesian McKee at 6-4 probably in our rotation this year. “All of those guys are athletic enough to guard multiple positions on the floor and all are skilled enough to play both insde and outside for us on offense.

“In addition, we also feel very good about our guard play, as we return Luke Green and Jackson Johns from last year’s squad. In addition, players like DaWan Lomax, Colby Caton, Caidyn Hazel and Edrissa Bah figure to play a promiment role for us in our rotation this season. Obviously, this is an unusual year in terms of the pandemic, which is certainly a wildcard and something that could potentially cause some havoc this season; however, we’ll do our best to navigate through it and will try to make the season as normal as we possibly can.”

The Pirates will find out soon enough where they belong with the rest of the teams in the TCC. In the upcoming conference tournament, Boonville is seeded No. 2 behind top-seeded Blair Oaks.

Anderson said the Tri-County Conference should once again be very good and very competitive. “I would think Blair Oaks, Southern Boone and us would be among the favorites to win the conference and to finish at the top,” Anderson said. “Blair Oaks and Southern Boone both lost their leading scorers (Eric Northweather and Reece Gilmore, respectively), but they both return many key pieces from their teams last year. Hallsville, California and Osage all have new coaches this year, including two 500 win coaches in the Missouri Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame (Brad Conway at California and Craig Engelbrecht at Osage). Hallsville and California would both also potentially be teams that could finish toward the top of the conference.”

While averaging 67.1 ppg game in 2019-20, the Pirates will return all but 9.3 of those points. Boonville also averaged 36.0 rpg last season along with 12.0 apg and 8.2 spg. As a team, the Pirates shot 46.6 percent from the field, 56.9 percent from the foul line and 30 percent from the three.

As for the players most likely to lead the Pirates night in and night out this season, Anderson will no doubt lean on senior Charlie Bronakowski, who finished last season averaging 16.5 ppg along with 10.3 rpg. 

While earning all-conference and all-district honors in 2019-20, Anderson said Bronakowski is a tremendous player who has averaged a double-double in both of the last two seasons. “He’s 6-6, athletic and can play both inside and outside for us,” Anderson said. “In fact, he led us in three-point field goal percentage last year. Charlie is a good leader and does everything right, both on and off the court.”

Wesolak has also shown that he can play on both ends of the floor while averaging 9.9 ppg and 5.5 rpg last year as a sophomore. Of course make no mistake, Wesolak is a well-rounded athlete while receiving over 20 Division I scholarships as a junior in football.

Anderson said Wesolak is a very versatile player who can play and defend both inside and on the perimeter. “DJ is a strong and physical player, but he also has a good shooting touch and can handle the ball very well for his size.”

Although not the tallest player on the field, Green also gives the Pirates a great scoring threat while averaging 9.2 ppg along with 2.4 rpg last season at the guard spot.

Anderson said Green is probably the best perimeter shooter on the team. “He was in a big of a shooting slump in the first half of the season, but he really turned it on in the second half of the season,” Anderson said. “He’s bigger and stronger than last year, and we’re expecting big things from Luke this year.”

Ditto for West, who averaged 6.9 ppg along with 6.0 rpg for the Pirates last season.

Like Wesolak, West thrives more on the gridiron but has proven that he can score and rebound with the best of them on any given night. 

Anderson said West is a very skilled player, but he is also very physical and fearless. “Although he’s a three-sport athlete, he worked very hard last year to improve his shooting touch.”

Other returning players that will help out this season are Rice, who averaged 4.6 ppg and 3.1 rpg, and Johns, who came off the bench last season as a freshman to average 3.8 ppg and 1.2 rpg.

Note: Anderson is entering his 14th years as head coach-second at Boonville. With an overall coaching record of 221-105, Anderson finished 55-27 at Knob Noster, 125-54 at Moberly, 21-18 at Jefferson City and 20-6 at Boonville. In tournaments last season, the Pirates won the Centralia Tournament and finished third in both the Tri-County Conference Tournament and the Southern Boone Tournament. 

BOONVILLE BOYS BASKETBALL (front row, left to right) Edrissa Bah, DaWan Lomax, Colby Caton and Dakota Troost. (second row, left to right) Garrett Hundley, Caidyn Hazel, Tucker Lorenz and Zane Watring. (third row, left to right) Assistant coach Blake Hackman, Axton Nease, Landon Drew, Fisher Jenkins, Jackson Johns, Luke Green and head coach Mark Anderson. (back row, left to right) Jamesian McKee, Charlie Bronakowski, Kayle Rice and D.J. Wesolak. Not pictured Lane West.c