Greensburg Daily News
The North Decatur boys basketball team is coming off the program’s first sectional championship in eight years. The Chargers went 11-9 in the regular season, then beat Milan and South Ripley for the sectional title.
For head coach Kyle Nobbe, the players and team might change, but the objectives and goals remain the same. He has seen the Chargers maintain commitment and success that has become commonplace.
“That’s what we hope to do as a program,” he said. “You always want to see that improvement. We have a completely different team this year, but we have the same expectations. We have another group of seniors coming in. You hope it gives that younger group a taste of that, succeeding and being able to win a tournament. If we can do that, you hope it puts you in a position to have another exciting run.”
Moving on through graduation were Jesse Elsner, Paul Badgley, Jeremiah Volk and Bobby Beeler. North will rely on five seniors this season. Stepping in are John Hammersmith, Jason Kirchhoff, Kevin Geis, Mitch Knecht and Dylan Koors.
Entering his fourth varsity season, Hammersmith looks to take on a lead role as a third-year starter.
“We expect a lot of big things from him,” said Nobbe. “He has to score for us. We feel he has to be, and can be, a threat down the court every time.”
Kirchhoff, a third-year veteran who played on JV as a freshman, will start and increase his role on offense. Kirchhoff is an athlete in his own right, becoming North’s all-time career rushing leader on the gridiron.
Nobbe thinks highly enough of him to expect another big season on the court.
“He has really improved offensively and had the best offseason coming into a season since his freshman year,” said Nobbe. “Without a doubt, he had the best summer and fall. He’s always been able to defend. We’ve always leaned on his defense and will continue to lean on him.”
Geis returns for a second full season of varsity action, after getting a lot of full-time varsity experience as a junior. Nobbe said Geis is “more than capable” of being a crucial element for North.
“I have no doubt that those three will step up and make plays to put us in a position to win games,” he said of Hammersmith, Kirchhoff and Geis.
Junior Brock Ricke, North’s starting quarterback, played off the bench last season.
“He’s hard-nosed and very strong,” said Nobbe of Ricke. “He handles the ball well, and will play wing and point. We feel that’s only going to be an asset for us as the season progresses. He had an outstanding summer for us. He is a good defender and has the ability to catch and shoot from the perimeter. When he’s going to the basket, he can score.”
Knecht dressed for varsity most of last season and will assume a shooting role this year.
“He gives us a shooter that we lacked last year,” said Nobbe. “He is a perimeter shooter that we definitely need.”
Koors will be a key defender for North.
“He is a scrappy kid, a very good defender and will rebound for us,” said Nobbe. “He’s fought adversity his whole life, and continues to overcome it.”
Junior Josh Weintraut is a newcomer on varsity. Similar to Ricke, Weintraut will play a mix of wing, 2-guard and on the block.
“He’s going to learn throughout the season,” said Nobbe, “but like Mitch, he can shoot the ball from the perimeter and stretch the defense. He’s starting to develop some consistency.”
Two freshmen will join the mix.
Nobbe called freshman Zach Johnson a hard-nosed kid who really works hard in practice.
“He brings us some athleticism and strength as a freshman,” said Nobbe. “The sky’s the limit. He can be aggressive and attack the basket.”
According to Nobbe, the team welcomed an influx of youth with eight freshmen on JV and varsity combined.
“We have kids who will be playing key roles,” said Nobbe. “With their effort, it’s got them into this position to contribute.”
Nobbe said sophomore Matthew Laudick and 6-foot-2 freshman Dayne Lecher have earned spots in the program.
“He has really come in and proved himself,” said Nobbe of Laudick. “Like Zach, he gives you that effort all the time. He hustles for us and plays with toughness and physical play that all teams have to have.”
Lecher will play varsity, but is currently out with an injury.
“We’re going to rely on him to handle the ball for us,” said Nobbe, “and make good decisions. He gives us that dimension on offense where he can do some different things.”
According to Nobbe, the Chargers anticipate nothing less than a conference and sectional title.
“Once you get to that point, you give yourself the opportunity to continue to advance in the tournament,” he said. “I’m excited about seeing where we go from game one to game 20. Once you get to that point, you give yourself the opportunity to continue to advance in the tournament. We feel we’re going to be a different team and better team come March.”
Coaching the JV team is Ryan Brattain. PJ Metz will coach the freshmen, with Alex Meyer assisting. Mike Blauvelt will coach eighth grade, while Mark Mohr will coach the seventh graders.
“I'm lucky to have them,” said Nobbe. “Our programs build around those guys.”
Contact Nick Gonnella at (812) 663-3111, x7003.