Augusta boys start out strong, look to top new conference
by Bridget Cooke
Citing cohesion as a main goal of their 2014-15 season play, the Augusta boys basketball team is looking forward to taking back a winning season they had with successes in the 2011-13 seasons.
Ending their last season with a heartbreakingly close loss to Cadott in WIAA Division 4 regionals, the Beavers rounded out their conference season with an 11-7 record in the East Cloverbelt. They hope to change that this year.
Senior Jordan Cerrillo said he and his fellow captains Noah Plewa and Brandon Kimball are looking to lead the team to a successful season, and hopefully even more successful playoffs.
“I think we can make a go if we really just work together as a team,” Cerrillo said. “We’re used to the feeling of being winners and we really want to be a family this year.”
Making a jump to the Dairyland Conference, Augusta hopes to claim the championship their first year in transition. However, the jump may prove a difficult obstacle for the Beavers to overcome. The varsity squad of 10 seniors has stiff competition in the form of the Blair-Taylor Wildcats, a team who made the trip down to Madison to compete at the state level, and who this year have the added bonus of a former Alma Center-Lincoln player who Augusta head coach Paul Henrichs said may prove to be a challenge.
“We do have a good quality core coming back and we can contend at the top of the Dairyland,” Henrichs said. “It’ll be a little bit different to go to all those new gyms, new faces and new places, but we’ll have to adjust and just play basketball.”
Still, the heavily-experienced team looks to be stacking up in competition. As they kicked off their season Tuesday evening just before Thanksgiving, the Beavers hosted Eau Claire Immanuel to a victory against the non-conference opponents 53-40.
The Beavers started out strong with a slight lead at the end of the first quarter, but fumbled their winning score to fall behind Immanuel in the second quarter. Headed into halftime, the goal of victory was still obtainable, but a 22-18 slight stood in their way. Rushing back into competition, Augusta took the game by storm and overthrew the visiting team by outscoring them 16-7 in the third quarter. After the fourth, the Beavers still outscored their opponents by a gap, ending the game in their favor with a 53-40 win over Immanuel.
Kimball led the team in scoring with 19 total points against the Lancers and Plewa followed with 10. Junior Hunter Alix followed closely and posted nine points. Plewa was also a force under the hoop, recovering nine rebounds while sophomore Kayne Korger was able to take down eight of his own for the Beavers.
A good start for Augusta only demonstrated the confidence they spoke of prior to Tuesday’s game about the upcoming season.
“A lot of us have played on varsity before and I think we have a good shot at conference this year,” Plewa said.
The Beavers recently took on the Osseo-Fairchild Thunder, who were reeling from a non-conference loss to Eleva-Strum Monday night, and now look to travel to Cochrane-Fountain City for a matchup tonight.