Despite losing a bulk of their scoring from a season ago, Evergreen boys basketball and veteran head coach Jerry Keifer — entering his 28th season — are optimistic heading into the 2020-21 campaign.
“This team has a chance to be pretty good. It is our hope to be in the league mix again this year,” Keifer said.
Last year the Vikings came one game shy of making the Division III state final four in a season that was halted due to the COVID-19 pandemic. They were set to play Ottawa-Glandorf in the regional final before the season was forced to end.
Gone from that team is Mason Loeffler, who was NWOAL Player of the Year, first team All-District 7 and All-Northwest District, and third team All-Ohio last season.
He finished his career for the Vikings at 1,543 points, averaging 19.3 points per game in his senior season.
They also lost Nate Brighton, a first team All-NWOAL/District 7 and third team All-Northwest District selection. Brighton averaged a double-double at 16.8 points and 12.5 rebounds a season ago. He notched 1,059 career points for the Vikings.
Other departed letter winners were Jack Etue (honorable mention All-District 7), CJ Hauk and Shane Ruetz.
“Experience, returning two starters but we have to replace a boatload of scoring from two 4-year letter winners and 1,000-point scorers,” said Keifer on a weakness heading into the season.
On the plus side, they return a pair of honorable mention all-league performers in juniors Ethan Loeffler and Evan Lumbrezer.
Ethan Loeffler averaged nearly 6 (5.9) points per game and 5.3 rebounds a game in 2019-20. Lumbrezer averaged 4.3 assists per contest.
Newcomers for the Vikings this season are seniors Austin Lumbrezer, Jake Fuller and Dylan Hickerson; juniors RJ Shunck, Brock Hudik and Lane Schoendorf; and sophomores Ben Ruetz and Tyler Sack.
“We have good size, and we have an experienced point guard in Evan Lumbrezer,” Keifer said on the Vikings’ strengths this season.
The Viking mentor sees four teams having a legitimate shot at capturing a NWOAL title this season. Those teams are Archbold, Bryan, Swanton and Wauseon.
Evergreen starts the season with a non-league contest at Cardinal Stritch on Tuesday, Dec. 1.
Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010