The St. Edmond boys will make their 2022-23 debut here Monday night against Bishop Garrigan.
Tip is set for 7:30 p.m. inside the SEHS gym.
Last year, the Gaels (0-0 overall) snapped a five-game win streak in the long-time series with a 67-42 victory over the Golden Bears (0-0). In the last 20 meetings, St. Edmond has won 14, including 12 consecutive from 2006-14.
Only four players with varsity experience are back for Adolph Kochendorfer, who enters his 30th season on the Gael sidelines. St. Edmond went 8-14 a year ago, but finished 7-1 against teams outside the North Central Conference.
Senior Jackson Palmer and junior Sam Mericle saw extensive action last year, while 12th-grader Aaron Lursen and 11th-grader JT Laufersweiler came off the bench.
Mericle and Lursen were members of the state-qualifying cross country team this past fall, and Laufersweiler earned all-district football honors. Palmer shined on the baseball diamond over the summer.
“They just have more confidence about them,” Kochendorfer said. “Jackson had a really good baseball season over the summer and has played a lot of basketball. Sam and Aaron really shined in cross country, and JT had a tremendous football season.
“You can tell they are ready and anxious to go.”
Palmer averaged just under 10 points per game last year with 3.2 rebounds, three assists and a steal. He shot 40 percent from the floor, 31 percent from the 3-point line and 70 percent at the line.
Mericle added 5.5 points with four rebounds, shooting almost 50 percent from the field, while Laufersweiler had eight points, 10 rebounds and five assists, and Lursen three points, three rebounds and an assist.
Joining Palmer, Mericle, Lursen and Laufersweiler in the starting lineup will be freshman Jackson McElroy.
Bishop Garrigan is two years removed from a run to the Class 1A title game, where they fell to Wapsie Valley. They went 15-9 the following season, but finished just 6-16 a year ago, their first losing mark since 2015-16 and just the second time since 2006-07 they failed to win at least 12 games.
A handful of regulars are back including Jack Grandgenett, Aidan Hovey, Ryan Noonan, Drew Muller, Drew Fogarty and Logan Nemmers. Fogarty averaged 10 points, six rebounds and two assists last year, while Grandgenett chipped in 6.5 points and shot 52 percent from the field.
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