Ballard might have a different look as it prepares for the 2019-2020 boys’ basketball season, but the Bombers want the same end result as they had a year ago.
Ballard advanced to the state tournament for the first time since 2004-05 last season, falling to Norwalk in the Class 3A quarterfinals. That was the final season for head coach Chris Deason
Jeff Schertz is taking over the program. Schetz arrives at Ballard from Iowa State, where he served as a manager for the men’s basketball team last year while in school to become a certified PE teacher in the state of Iowa.
Prior to coming to Iowa he coached for 13 years in both Alabama and Tennessee, amassing a 77-45 record.
Schertz is excited to be taking over a program that is coming off a trip to state.
“I took over at the end of May so we were able to do some things over the summer and that was big for us, especially our older guys, to get familiar with me and for me to get to know them,” Schertz said. “We’ve got a great group. I’m excited about them as individuals, first and foremost, and as basketball players. I like where we’re at, but we want to be playing our best basketball at the end of February and into March.”
The returning players like what they’ve seen from their new coach.
“It’s going great,” Ballard junior guard Mason Murphy said. “We got our chemistry down and everything is going together. We put in a new offense and we really spread the floor. I like it.”
Ballard will be running a triangle offense under Schertz.
“We’re calling it the triangle, but it’s a little bit of a hybrid offense,” Schertz said. “We’ve kind of run a similar style for most of my years coaching, but each year it’s a little bit different. We’ve taken bits and pieces of stuff I’ve done in the past, applied them here with our players’ skill sets and hopefully we’ve got the best product coming out when we start playing games.”
Murphy is one of three players returning with quality experience from last year along with junior forward/center Connor Drew and sophomore post Kale Krogh. They will have to carry the load early as Ballard tries to replace a talented senior class that included six of the top eight scorers off last year’s 15-10 team.
Drew is the leading returning scorer and rebounder for Ballard. At 6-6 Drew was a unanimous all-RRC pick last season, averaging 17.2 points and 9.6 rebounds per game.
Murphy averaged 8.0 points and 4.3 assists per game. Krogh put up 3.1 points and 2.7 rebounds.
Senior Nic Edwards was also starting to come on late last year before an injury cut his season short.
Ballard gets the benefit of two talented upperclassmen returning to the floor this season.
Senior Kade Reinertson missed his entire junior season with an injury. Speedy junior Sam Petersen took last year off, but decided to get back on the hardwood again this year.
Athletic sophomore Ashton Hermann joined Krogh as the only freshmen to play varsity last year. Colby Calvert, Bryce Haessig, Jacob Ihle and Jacob Ross give Ballard a large sophomore class that could contribute and Kyler Watson, Isaiah Peasley, Clayton Ubben, Alex Upah and Kade Miller make up the rest of the junior class.
Drake Wunder joins Edwards and Reinertson in forming Ballard’s senior class.
“All the guys on the team believe we can do something great this year,” Murphy said. “It’s going good.”
The Bombers get to go up against a lot of talented teams once again this season.
They open with a rematch against Norwalk, go to Pella and Boone and host Dallas Center-Grimes, Bondurant-Farrar and Nevada in non-conference games before Christmas. After the break their non-conference slate includes a road game against a strong Gilbert team and a home contest with Harlan before ending the season on the road against old rival North Polk.
In Raccoon River Conference play the Bombers must go up against defending champion and traditional power Carroll. Winterset, Boone and Adel-Desoto-Minburn all had a winning record a year ago and Bondurant-Farrar and Carlisle each won 10 games.
“Winterset is going to be really good, they have a lot of guys coming back,” Murphy said. “Carroll’s gonna be pretty good too - they’re a pretty solid team.”
But Ballard isn’t worried about the conference race just yet. Right now the team is dialed in trying to improve on last year’s weaknesses to become a more complete team.
“Last year turnovers were kind of a big thing for us and some games we didn’t knock down shots that we needed to knock down,” Drew said. “The 3-pointer is really going to help us out this year. It’s a little bit of everything. We’re going to keep getting better.”
If everything does come together Ballard feels it has a good shot at reaching Wells Fargo Arena again.
“We really want to get back there again,” Drew said. “We want to see if we can make a little bigger run. That’s the ultimate goal for us.”