OSKALOOSA — Brandon Lenhart enters year number two of leading the Oskaloosa boys basketball program after a tough 2-19 first season. He will return four starters from that team as they look to show the work they’ve put in in the offseason and in the preseason to improve for this year.
Those returnees include seniors Keaton Flaherty, David Nelson, Carson Genskow and junior Waylon Bolibaugh.
Flaherty, a 6-foot-4 guard, was the team’s leading scorer a year ago averaging 14.4 points per game on 43.8% shooting from the field and 30.2% from three to go with 5.2 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.6 steals per game. He plays with some swagger in his game and will be a key shotmaker and playmaker again this season.
Nelson was the only player to start all 21 games last season. He averaged 4.4 points, 2.9 rebounds and 1.2 steals per game. Genskow returns as the teams best three-point threat after averaging 5.2 points, 1.8 rebounds, 2.1 assist and 1.0 steals per game and hitting a team-best 45.5% of his shots from beyond the arc. Bolibaugh brings some slashing ability after averaging 6.5 points on 49.2% shooting from the field with 4.4 rebounds, 1.0 assists and 1.3 steals per game.
“We have four starters returning from last year's team, I think that as a team this group really has the ability to defend at a high level,” Lenhart said. “We have multiple guys who can score the ball from multiple levels due to their work they put in since last year's season ended.”
Senior guard Darryl Fane, who spent time in the starting lineup and off the bench for Osky, also returns along with a big group of newcomers that will try to crack the rotation.
Sophomore guard Aidan Scholes has been one of those impressive newcomers that earns himself some minutes along with fellow sophomore Gus Bunnell, junior Tucker DeJong and senior Caleb Opheim. At 6-foot-5, Bunnell and Opheim should have a chance to fill a spot in the post. Freshmen Alexander Perla and Xavier Edwards have also been fighting for spots in the rotation.
Improvement on the offensive end will be a point of emphasis for this squad as they finished 60th out of 64 teams in Class 3A in points per game at 40.4. They shot just 37.3% from the field and 27.4% from three and turned the ball over an average of 19.2 times per game. All are marks they will try to move in the right direction.
“We hope to improve on our ability to put the basketball in the basket, as we struggled to score points as individuals and as a team,” Lenhart said. “We had a really good offseason and hope to build off the hard work and dedication these men have put in all year long.”
Oskaloosa will have to navigate a tough three-game road trip to start the season as well as an always tough Little Hawkeye Conference schedule. Oskaloosa finished 0-14 last season in LHC play while defending 3A champs Pella and state quarterfinalist Dallas Center-Grimes figure to have strong teams again this winter.
“I think we have a solid non-conference schedule and an always tough Little Hawkeye Conference,” Lenhart said. “We are going to have to be super prepared as we move through this season. We have an opportunity to improve everyday and be playing the best basketball at the end of the year. If we live up to the Oskaloosa standard of excellence that our leaders of this basketball family have put forth, we will have a successful season and have a lot of fun a long the way.”