By Brandon Enroth
The 2016-17 boys basketball season has been a wild one thus far for the members of the Packerland Conference. Upon completion of competitive play last week, the standings of the Packerland Conference have a cluster of teams at the top of the standings with four teams holding 6 wins overall on the season. Time to have a closer look at each team as they await their return to action next week for the second half of the season.
Sturgeon Bay Clippers: 4-1 overall, 4-1 in-conference – Currently in 1st place
The Clippers have been the big surprise of 2016. Their first four games of December were all in-conference matchups collecting wins over Kewaunee, Oconto, and Algoma. The real shocker was last Thursday night when the Clippers upset Southern Door 67-43 at home before heading into the break. The Clippers are preparing for action tomorrow as they play in the Shawano Classic against Wrightstown, followed up by another non-conference matchup on Friday vs. Milwaukee Collegiate Academy. Connor Gajda has been the mid-season MVP for the Clippers averaging over 18 PPG ranking him currently 6th overall in the conference.
Southern Door Eagles: 6-1 overall, 4-1 in-conference – Currently in 2nd place
The Eagles have looked like the team to beat so far this season. The LeCaptain brothers have been unstoppable thus far aside from a tough road loss to Sturgeon Bay last Thursday night which gave them their first in-conference loss of the season. Nick LeCaptain has been the best boys basketball player in the conference this year averaging over 22 PPG and averages 4.4 APG as well. The Eagles play their first game back on January 3rd at home against Denmark, then travel north on January 6th for a showdown with the Vikings a game that will be broadcasted on 105.1 WSBW.
Gibraltar Vikings: 6-3 overall, 3-2 in-conference – Currently tied for 3rd place
The Vikings have played excellent basketball in 2016 and will look to repeat their success in 2017. The Vikings rolled into the holiday break blowing out Sevastopol 85-43 on Thursday, December 23rd. Prior to that game, they lost a tough road matchup to Oconto, and placed 3rd overall in the Kohler Tournament a couple weekends back. The Vikings have been led by center Tyler Kropuenske who is averaging over 10 rebounds per game, and 15 points per game. The Vikings will end their break on January 3rd when they face Gresham Community on the road, and then will return to Fish Creek for in-conference action against Southern Door.
Oconto Blue Devils: 7-2 overall, 3-2 in-conference – Currently tied for 3rd place
The Blue Devils have been one of the on-the-rise sleeper teams in the Packerland Conference this year. They have an impressive overall record and currently sit over .500 in conference play. They ended 2016 conference play with a victory over Kewaunee before winning against Shiocton in the Shawano Classic earlier today. The Blue Devils return to action on January 3rd as they open on the road against Marinette and then on January 6th against Algoma.
Algoma Wolves: 6-4 overall, 3-2 in-conference – Currently tied for 3rd place
The Wolves are the other sleeper team in this conference. They have had a solid season overall and it shows given their positioning within the standings. After losing to both Southern Door and Sturgeon Bay to start the month of December, they ended 2016 with a bang with victories over Reedsville and GB NEW Lutheran. The Wolves have been led so far this season by Aidan Wallace who has averaged over 14 PPG and 11 RPG through 10 games. He currently leads the conference in the rebounding category.
GB NEW Lutheran Blazers: 2-4 overall, 2-3 in-conference – Currently in 4th place
The Blazers have had a tough start to the season due to their schedule, but they have had some bright spots along the way up to this break point in the year. After picking up a huge win over Sturgeon Bay to start December, they slipped up a bit losing two straight to Sheboygan Christain and Algoma. However, the Blazers will be fresh heading into January as they will partake in the Cambridge High School Tournament on Thursday, then will return to non-tournament action the following week with the other teams. They first travel Bonduel on January 3rd, then will return home against Kewaunee on January 6th. Samuel Meerstein has been the leader on this team so far this year averaging over 20 PPG and also leading the team with 8 steals.
Kewaunee Storm: 1-6 overall, 1-4 overall in-conference – Currently in 5th place
This Kewaunee team has struggled this year to keep pace with their opponents. The offense isn’t the problem, it is the defense that has let this team down thus far. As a team, they have been outscored heavily in the second half of the season leading to their current record. Their lone win came against Sevastopol on December 13th and will look to turn things around tomorrow in the Raider Shootout Tournament against Sheboygan North. They then will start 2017 on the road against GB NEW Lutheran, before returning home against Algoma on January 10th. Jacob Basten has been a huge factor for this team both offensively and defensively. Basten has averaged over 10 points per game, 5 rebounds per game, and continues to shoot .551 from the floor.
Sevastopol Pioneers: 0-9 overall, 0-4 in-conference – Currently in 6th place
The Pioneers have had a rough season thus far, but there are a couple of things stick out beside their record. The Pioneers have a strong core of young players that are sometimes playing two games on game nights since many of their JV players play on varsity as well. The team is mostly made up of underclassmen that are getting exposed to a talented conference of upperclassmen and in time, this should pay off for the Pioneers in the long run. Hunter Ebel and Nelson Demminn have been the brightest starts for this team. Ebel for his defensive abilities and his flashy ball movement make him a great two-way athletic player. Demminn on the other hand, is electric as well as patient when it comes to his shot selection. He averages over 9 PPG and is only a junior. Sevastopol dropped their last contest to Gibraltar on Thursday, December 22nd and will prepare for their upcoming game against Sturgeon Bay on January 6th.
With plenty of games left in the season, this conference still is up for grabs. The in conference games in January will set the stage for a competitive February as these teams press on into 2017 with all eyes focusing on making the playoffs at the end of the year.
For all your Packerland Conference coverage, look no further than the Sports section of DoorCountyDailyNews.com