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PREVIEW: Spartans loaded with experience

Superior High School's Mason Ackley dunks the basketball during the Spartans' overtime loss to Eau Claire Memorial Tuesday, Nov. 27, in the SHS gym. (Jed Carlson / jcarlson@superiortelegram.com)1 / 10
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With a starting line up of five seniors, including their top three scorers from a season ago, Superior High School boys basketball coach Jake Smith has high expectations for his Spartans heading into the 2017-18 season.

Mason Ackley was the Spartans’ leading scorer a year ago with 14.2 points per game, followed by Xavier Patterson (12.5 ppg) and Ben Rhodes (9.5 ppg). Ackley (first-team) and Patterson (second-team) were also named all-conference.

Joining those three in the starting lineup will be Beau Severson and Elijah Owens.

“We have a good group with a lot of chemistry,” Ackley said.”We have five starting seniors and we’ve been playing together for a long time. I’m excited for the season.”

Lost through graduation on a team that went 9-14 overall last season, and finished second in the Lake Superior Conference at 4-3, were Kaleb Zentkowski (6 ppg) and Cam Borgh (7 ppg, 7 rebounds per game). Borgh was All-LSC honorable mention.

“Our team strengths heading into the season are experience, athleticism, perimeter shooting, chemistry and balance,” SHS coach Jake Smith said. “Our goals are winning a conference championship, getting some home playoff games and winning a regional championship.”

Concern to Smith and Ackley are lack of team height.

“We don’t have any size,” Ackley said. “I’m the biggest guy we have and I’m only 6-4, so we have to work on our inside defense, getting rebounds and our post defense.”

“Despite needing to work on our rebounding and post defense, our expectations are high,” Smith said.

The Spartans have won 14 Lake Superior Conference titles, including seven titles in 10 years under coach Dave Kontny, who stepped down after the 2012-13 season.

Superior then won three straight titles from 2015 to 2017 under Smith, who says the Spartans, along with Hermantown and Duluth Denfeld, are the teams to beat in the LSC this year.

“Hermantown has a number of key players returning with a lot of experience,” Smith said. “And Denfeld has a new coach who will have his team playing hard and ready to compete.”

SPARTAN SPIN: Smith begins his sixth season with a record of 66-52. … The Spartans lost to Eau Claire North in the first round of last year’s playoffs. … Superior public school have appeared in a record 33 state tournaments (Superior Central, 26; Superior East, 6; and SHS 1). … Superior (Central) won state titles in 1920, 1935, 1936 and 1974, and finished second in 1924, 1954 and 1955.

ECM 91, SHS 80, OT

Eau Claire Memorial outscored the Spartans 15-4 in overtime to win the season-opening game for both teams 91-80 Tuesday, Nov. 27, in the SHS gym.

The Spartans lived and died at the 3-point line.

Trailing 47-38 at the half, Superior quickly tied the game 51-51 with four 3-pointers in the opening three minutes of the second half. Beau Severson made three of the long-range shots and Elijah Owens made the other.

The Spartans eventually went ahead 66-60 and maintained the lead until ECM’s Nathan Hau banked in a 3-pointer at the buzzer to tie the game at 76-76.

Simon Larson and Connor Stoik nailed 3-pointers at the start of overtime and the Old Abes never looked back.

“We got a good spark from Beau,” Ackley said. “We were a bit hesitant to drive on their big guys in the first half, so we decided to take a lot of 3’s and it worked for a while.”

The first half saw 11 lead changes and ties at 11, 15 and 28.

Ackley gave Superior a 30-28 lead with 6:40 left in in the first half.

But ECM outscored Superior 16-9 the rest of the half for a 47-39 halftime lead.

Caden Boser led ECM with 26 points. Hau added 22 and Tanner Linduski had 12.

Superior had five players in double figures. Ackley led the way with 22 points, followed by Severson, 15; Ben Rhodes, 12; and Xavier Patterson and Joey Barker, 11 apiece.

Superior played at Eau Claire North Thursday, Nov. 29.

SPARTAN SPIN: Superior won the JV game 43-41 behind 14 points from Draden Jensen and 13 from Johnny Rhodes. … SHS also won the C-Team game 53-33.

E.C. Mem. 47-29-15—91

Superior 39-37-4—80

Eau Claire Memorial — Altherelle Robbins 3, Connor Stroik 7, Ethan VanGrunsven 11, Tanner Linduski 12, Simon Larson 10, Nathan Hau 22, Caden Boser 26. Totals 33 15-19 91.

3-point goals — Boser 3, Larson 2, Linduski 2, Stoik, VanGrunsven, Hau.

Superior — Mason Ackley 22, Xavier Patterson 11, Beau Severson 15, Ben Rhodes 12, Willem McCellan 2, Joey Barker 11, Elijah Owens 3, Jarrett Gronski 4. Totals 25 16-24 80.

3-point goals — Severson 4, Barker 2, Ackley 2, Patterson, Rhodes, Owens.

Superior High School Spartans

2018-19 Boys Basketball Roster

3  Draden Jensen 10 G 5-11

5  Johnny Rhodes 10 G 5-11

10 Mason Ackley 12 G/F 6-4

11 Xavier Patterson 12 G 6-0

12 Beau Severson 12 F 6-2

15 Ben Rhodes 12 G 5-11

20 Willem McClellan 12 F 6-3

22 Joey Barker 11 G 6-3

24 Elijah Owens 12 G 5-9

25 Jarrett Gronski 11 G 6-1

30 Lars Olson 10 G/F 6-0

35 Kaden Kimmes 10 G/F 6'1

Head coach: Jake Smith

Assistant coaches: Rick Raymond, Willie Moon, Brent Engstrom, Cole Oettinger, Jed Carlson

Team Managers: Garrett Lickiss, Kylie Mason, Lia Loberg

Junior Varsity Roster

3  Draden Jensen 10

5  Johnny Rhodes 10

11 Donte White 9

13 Kris Sigfrids 10

15 Malachi Simiyu 10

21 Chase Magnuson 10

23 Logan Peterson 10

25 Mason Maki 10

30 Lars Olson 10

31 Stanley Wu 10

33 Noah Gunderson 10

35 Kaden Kimmes 10

C Team Roster

Ethan DeFoe, Jake Kidd, Curran Starry, Andrew Olson, Tanner Swanson, Robert Olson, Alex Velleux, Evan Bennett, Shane Leask, Jeffrey Olson, Ross Rivord, Jordan Goldfine, Ryan Orstad.

Superior High School Spartans

2018-19 Boys Basketball Schedule

Tue., Nov. 27 vs. E.C. Mem. (L, 91-80, OT)

Thur., Nov. 29 at E.C. North, 7:15 p.m.

Tue., Dec. 4 at Esko, 7:15 p.m.

Thur., Dec. 6 vs. Duluth Denfeld, 7:15 p.m.

Tue., Dec. 11 at Chippewa Falls, 7:15 p.m.

Thur., Dec. 27 Tartan Tournament

Fri., Dec. 28 Tartan Tournament

Sat., Jan. 5 vs. Herm. at Cloquet, 3:30 p.m.

Mon., Jan. 7 vs. Marshall, 7:15 p.m.

Thur., Jan. 10 vs. Duluth East, 5:45 p.m.

Sat., Jan. 12 vs. New Life Academy of Woodbury at Duluth East

Fri., Jan. 18 at Duluth Denfeld, 7:15 p.m.

Fri., Jan. 25 vs. Cloquet, 7:15 p.m.

Tue., Jan. 29 at Proctor, 7:15 p.m.

Thur., Jan. 31 at Bemidji, 7:30 p.m.

Tue.,  Feb. 5 at Duluth East, 7:30 p.m.

Thur.,  Feb. 7 at Grand Rapids, 7:15 p.m.

Tue.,  Feb. 12 vs. Rice Lake, 7:15 p.m.

Sat.,  Feb. 16 vs. Hudson, 1:30 p.m.

Tue.,  Feb. 19 vs. Menomonie, 7:15 p.m.

Thur.,  Feb. 21 vs. Ashland, 7:15 p.m.

Sat.,  Feb. 23 vs. Tartan, 3 p.m.

March 1-2 WIAA Regionals, 7 p.m.

Thur., March 7 WIAA Sectional at Hudson

Sat., March 9 Section Final at Wis. Rapids

March  15-16 WIAA State Tournament

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