Gehlen Catholic boys to turn to seniors for success

Monday, November 27, 2017
(Sentinel Photo By Allen Hamil) Above, Gehlen Catholic’s Bryan Nohava puts the ball high off the glass for a layup at practice last week. Nohava returns as the leading rebounder from last year’s team.

LE MARS — Gehlen Catholic has a strong core of seniors on its roster as they look to improve upon last year’s 17-7 finish that ended in the district finals with a two point loss to Remsen St. Mary’s.

“Us losing to them by two in the playoff game kinda left a bitter taste in our mouth,” Bryan Nohava said. “We want to get down to the state tournament. In football, we were one game short, so we’d like to make another run here for our school.”

Of the team’s seven losses, three came at the hands of the rival Hawks, a team that made its first-ever state tournament appearance last season. This year the Jays hope it’s their turn to run the table on the War Eagle Conference and earn just its second-ever trip to state. The last came in 1983 and ended with a 73-46 loss to Northwood-Kensett in the state quarterfinals.

The team loses its top scorer and lone senior from last year in Cooper Davis. He averaged 12.5 points per game and was the team’s leading three-point threat. Davis also tied for the team-lead in assists.

Aside from Davis, the team returns mostly intact, something the Jays hope to use to their advantage.

“We’ve got a lot of good leadership and we’ve all been doing this for a few years,” Brady Livermore said. “We’ve got the experience and that will help us against some younger teams and will hopefully lead to a few more wins this year.”

Cole Wiltgen is an all-around solid player for Gehlen and one would expect a good chunk of the offense to funnel through him. Wiltgen averaged 11.3 points per game last season, led the team in steals and assists, and was second in rebounding.

(Sentinel Photo By Allen Hamil) Above, Cole Wiltgen weaves his way past defenders in the lane and puts up a layup on the left side of the hoop. Wiltgen is the team’s leading returning scorer as he averaged 11.3 points per game a year ago.

“I feel like I can improve my game, help the team out,” Wiltgen said. “We want to improve defensively. We kind of struggled last year, so we want to improve on defense.”

More good news for the Jays comes from the expected return of Alec Langel to the lineup. After an early prognosis saw Langel likely missing his entire senior season following an injury sustained during football, he says he is currently on track to make a mid-December return. Langel suffered a tibial plateau fracture which tore his meniscus and moved his ACL.

“Definitely I’m going to appreciate basketball and being able to play a lot more,” Langel said. “I’ve been going to therapy, basically trying to do stuff to strengthen my quad and calf a lot.”

Langel scored over 11 points per contest last season and contributed solid numbers across other categories as well.

One advantage the team will look to exploit is with their size down low with the tandem of Nohava and Livermore. Each averaged over six points per game with Nohava leading the team with 118 rebounds and Livermore third with 94. Nohava also had 28 blocks to top the team.

“We just have good chemistry with the movement in the offense,” Livermore said of working with Bryan. “We can read each others’ minds and know what the other guy’s going to do. That helps us work together for our scoring and rebounding.”

(Sentinel Photo By Allen Hamil) Above, Brady Livermore dribbles the ball in the outside corner as he looks to make a pass down low. Livermore pulled down 94 rebounds last year for the Jays.

Nohava adds most teams won’t have two guys who can match straight up against him and Livermore.

“That’ll open up the offense and help us out down low,” Nohava said. “If they’re worried about me and Brady a lot, that leaves Caden, Cole, Alec and all of them open.”

The team is looking forward to the season which begins tonight at Lawton-Bronson.

“We just got to take it one game at a time and keep working hard at practice and focus on one game and winning every game,” Wiltgen said. “Every game counts.”

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