Shenandoah boys basketball looked back at what head coach Derek Howard termed an “up and down season” and celebrated a large senior class during their annual end of season banquet, Monday, March 9.
The banquet was sponsored by the Shenandoah Rotary Club and held at the Elks Lodge. Lu and Al's Nishna Valley Cafe catered the meal.
Howard said it took his group about a month to get into a rhythm as top returning scorer Kyle Cerven didn’t practice until after the regular season started because of an injury sustained during football. It was a tough beginning, but the Mustangs ended 2019 by playing right with St. Albert, losing by seven.
That performance set the stage for a strong stretch coming off the holiday break as the Mustangs played Atlantic tough, beat Fremont-Mills, lost a close one at home to Nodaway Valley and then downed Red Oak.
A “brutal stretch” of the schedule followed, which included many of the top Hawkeye 10 teams. The Mustangs lost eight straight. The last of those losses came to a Missouri Valley team that hadn’t won a game all season coming in as Howard said confidence had dropped at that point.
The Mustangs responded, however, overcoming a double digit deficit to beat a solid Bedford team in the home finale three days later, and then earning a district tournament win over Red Oak. The season ended with a district semifinal loss to Treynor, an eventual state tournament team.
The Mustangs ended with a 5-18 overall record.
There were nine Mustangs who earned varsity letters, including all six seniors.
Cerven missed time early and late in the season with an injury and still nearly matched last season’s numbers, finishing 11th in the Hawkeye 10 Conference in scoring.
Conner Birt was third in the conference in assists and did a great job at the point.
Anthony Stogdill didn’t miss a practice that Howard could remember in his three years as head coach and was the only Mustang to start every game over the past two seasons.
The next three seniors didn’t see nearly as much playing time as the first three, but Howard said it was a hard-working group who were constantly getting better in Ty Lantz, Ethan Voshell and Devin Morelock.
Howard said Lantz put in a ton of time in the summer, Voshell showed off his strong basketball knowledge all year and Morelock, despite missing multiple practices because of bowling, forced his way into the rotation at the end of the season.
The other three letter-winners were the other two usual starters in junior Braden Knight and freshman Blake Herold as well as junior Brody Owen, who was Howard’s first option off the bench most of the season.
Knight was playing his best ball at the end of the year, Herold was top 10 in the conference in rebounds and blocked shots and Owen ended ninth in the conference in 3-pointers made.
The other senior in the program was manager Blake Son, who saw playing time on senior night, and Howard said was great to have around for the past two seasons.
Son and the six senior players all received academic honors from the conference and the team received the Distinguished Academic Achievement Award from the Iowa High School Athletic Association for having a cumulative grade point average of 3.25 or higher.
Junior varsity coach Jay Soderberg spoke about five players who all saw limited varsity time at the end of the season. Those five will likely be next to join Herold, Knight and Owen in the varsity lineup next year.
Adam Wright coached the freshman/reserve team. He said his group practiced hard and came a long way in their development during the season.
Basketball cheer coach Patty Roberts talked about her team as well that also received the Distinguished Academic Achievement Award from the IHSAA.
Roberts gave out nine varsity letters, including to her four seniors in Kayla Shelton, Tyler Freed, Zayddi Ladish and Gage Reed. Shelton also received the all-conference academic award.