Redhawks fly past Warriors in season openers on the hardwood
New coaching staff expresses optimism for season
The North Tama girls’ and boys’ basketball teams took on the Meskwaki Warriors Tuesday, Nov. 29 at home during both squads’ season openers with each team winning their respective hardwood match-ups.
Both Redhawk teams have new head and assistant coaches this season, new athletes in the starting line-ups, and a new 35-second shot clock rule to contend with.
Redhawk girls’ basketball
The Redhawk girls’ basketball team beat the Warriors, 49-40, in what was at times a close game – particularly in the second quarter – under new head coach Harold Youngblut.
Youngblut, a Dysart-Geneseo graduate, boasts a rich coaching history that includes Hudson where he coached his daughter, the now shuttered Northern University High School in Cedar Falls where he coached the girls’ varsity team to their only district championship in school history, freshman basketball at East and West high schools in Waterloo, and most recently youth basketball at Union.
“I am very proud of how the girls handled the adversity of seeing our large lead turn into a deficit [against Meskwaki],” Youngblut said in a text-based interview following the game. “They stayed positive with each other and came back for the [nine] point win! [Nineteen] points in [the first quarter] and 16 points in [fourth quarter] is good – we just need to keep that tally up in the middle two quarters.”
Led by sophomore guard Ava Breakenridge this season, North Tama’s starting five features a young roster – two freshmen, one sophomore, and two juniors – but Youngblut said he is expecting “great things” from the team.
“The game was the very epitome of our team, there will be times that look pretty darn good, and there will be times that we look not so good. … We were not strong enough on defense, at times we had difficulty keeping track of defensive assignments. I believe that we can shore this up fairly quickly. We have some outstanding athletes, we just need to have better court awareness [and] stop straight line drives to the basket.”
The following Friday night, Dec. 2, at home in the Redhawks Nest, Youngblut’s team lost their second game of the season to BCLUW, 46-21, but the loss should only further Youngblut’s resolve to see his team improve this year on their 2021-2022 record of 8-13.
“I can say it is a joy to coach all ten of these girls. They really are good kids,” Youngblut said. “I know the quality of people that live in small communities like Traer. It is a joy to coach kids who are respectful and just really nice kids … knowing the athletes that have excelled in North Tama cross country, volleyball, and track. I believe with a little time we can add girls’ basketball to that list of state qualifiers and since I dream big, let’s just add State champions.”
Redhawk boys’ basketball
It was a runaway season opening victory on Nov. 29 for the North Tama boys’ basketball team as they handily beat the Meskwaki Warriors 95-11.
With four of the five Redhawk starters new to the role this year, it was certainly exciting and perhaps reassuring for the hometown crowd to see the new lineup work with each other with relative ease.
Starters this season include senior Michael Schrier (returning), senior Lucas DeBoef, junior Jared Dvorak, junior Ryan Hosek, and sophomore Josh Dostal.
“There is a lot to love about our starting five,” new head coach Eric Jesse said of his team following the game. “They play a different style than the starters last year. Our starters all are similar in size and athleticism which makes use a tough cover defensively. Defensively we are able to do some different things with our length that can affect the game.”
“The kids – starters and bench – have bought into their roles so far and they all play unselfishly which is awesome to see every day. Our senior leaders and captain, Michael Schrier and Lucas DeBoef have done a great job of leading the young guys.”
Although this is his first year as a head varsity coach, Jesse has seven years of assistant coaching experience under his belt including at Janesville and nearby Union.
“I chose North Tama because I l know the type of athletes that are walking the halls here,” Jesse said. “There is a lot of potential to have a great basketball program. The hardworking, pride, and overall passion is something that is not only [evident] in the school but also in the community. [Activities Director Taylor Wurth] has also done a great job of building the culture in the athletic programs which was very apparent when I interviewed here.”
In terms of his players’ season opener against Meskwaki, Jesse said he was obviously quite pleased with the results.
“We talked about some of our keys before the game about winning the rebound and turnover battle and we were able to do both of those things. We also were able to control the pace of the game and get out on the break as well as get up and pressure the opponents. We had 26 assists as a team which is showing how unselfish we are as a team. There are definitely things we will continue to work on but the biggest things are staying disciplined defensively and continuing to talk on defense.”
Following four road games including Colo-NESCO on Dec. 9 and Collins-Maxwell on Dec. 13, both North Tama varsity squads will not be home again until Friday, Dec 16 when they’ll face Baxter in the Redhawks Nest.
The girls’ game is set for 6:30 p.m. while the boys’ tip-off is set for 7:45 p.m.