The South Nodaway boys basketball team has likely added more to this season’s team than it lost to graduation last season. One main reason for that is because of all the injuries the Longhorns had to deal with throughout last season.
“One of the benefits of returning as many guys as we do is that we can kind of start practice at the beginning of the year with some mid-season concepts,” South Nodaway coach Dustin Skoglund said. “We have some youth that we are bringing along, but there is definitely a veteran core of eight or nine guys that have a chance to be pretty salty this year.
“A lot of these guys have had injuries and they feel like this is their last shot, so there is a little bit of that edge and sense of urgency. That is going to make this a fun group.”
Those injuries started with Kole Kramer missing his entire junior year. Kramer was one of the most dangerous outside shooters for the team heading into last season Skoglund is excited to add him back into the mix this season.
“He is a fantastic shooter,” Skoglund said. “He is a good athlete and is still recovering some of the athleticism after the injury. But his best attribute is his shooting ability. He can really, really shoot the ball.”
Kramer’s addition to the mix should only help a frontcourt that was extremely productive last season despite missing one of their primary floor-spacers. Senior Taylar Freemyer leads that group and is coming off of a First-Team All-275 Conference season.
“Freemyer is a fantastic post player and if you throw another shooter out there, that makes it pretty tough to defend,” Skoglund said.
Freemyer averaged 15.5 points, 8.1 rebounds, 3.9 assists, 2.5 steals and 2.2 blocks a game last season. Few in the state can match the diversity of that stat line and Freemyer says without Kramer, he was forced to improve his outside game and become a more well-rounded player.
“It definitely helped me rush my development a little more,” Freemyer said with a laugh. “In a good way.”
Having been awarded most of the individual accolades that he can possibly ever get, Freemyer is focused solely on team success in his senior season.
“I feel like everyone is ready to go out and prove something this year,” Freemyer said. “I just want to do anything that will help our team win. I just want more wins for our team, that is all I can say.”
Senior Cade Henggeler also returns this season as the starting point guard. Without Kramer, Henggeler was even more relied upon last year to carry the load for the Longhorns. He is looking forward to having the teams full compliment of weapons this season.
“He is a great three-point shooter so having him back, it opens up the floor for everyone else,” Henggeler said.
Henggeler broke his leg in the offseason, but even that didn’t dull his excitement for the season.
“Even when I was in a boot and cast, I was in here shooting and just getting ready,” Henggeler said.
On the wing, Tanner Davis and Clayton Walker return and, along with Freemyer, help give the Longhorns one of the most athletic frontcourts in the area.
“I think we can go small, but we have five or six kids out here over 6-foot that can play some serious varsity minutes,” Skoglund said. “I think we can go big if we want to and that is going to give us a really nice card to play whenever we are dealing with matchups and scouting opponents.”
The Longhorns will play next week in the Platte Valley Invitational and play Osborn in the first round in DeKalb at 8:30 p.m. on Monday.
“We are really balanced,” Skoglund said. “I think we can hurt people in a lot of ways and I think our depth — that top eight or nine people — isn’t something we’ve had here in a lot of years, so I am really excited for this group and some of the things that I think they can do.”
South Nodaway and Jefferson basketball will become Platte Valley basketball next year so Freemyer wants to leave Barnard with a season to remember.
“We want to definitely end it on a high note, not just for South Nodaway, but for ourselves too,” Freemyer said.