Some experience, some holes for Irondale boys hoops

Since suffering through a two-win season a few years ago, the Irondale High School boys basketball team has slowly increased its number of victories each season. The Knights have a solid nucleus of returning experienced players but will have to fill some holes left by graduation in order to see another jump in wins this season.

Head coach Jon DeMars likes the chemistry on his squad this season and also sees a true enjoyment of the sport from his players.

“We expect to have a competitive and tight-knit team,” said DeMars, who is in his 20th season with the Knights. “They are coachable and unselfish. They love to play.”

Leading the team are two seniors who enter their final prep basketball go-round with three years of varsity experience. Sean Sutherlin is back after averaging 14 points, five rebounds and 2.5 assists per game as a junior. Sonam Paichang’s numbers from last year include 7.2 points, 2.1 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game.

Also back are juniors Daudi Simon and Brendan White, who have a combined three years of varsity experience. White is entering his third year on varsity while Simon heads into his second.

Newcomers who DeMars expects to contribute include senior Jordi Pacheco-Ramirez, juniors Leighton Glodek and Kiaren Ward and sophomore Dylan Irving.

Irondale won 10 games last season after nabbing seven victories in 2014-15. It was in the 2013-14 season that they Knights won only twice in 27 contests. Irondale’s most recent winning season came in 2012-13, when it finished 14-13.

Something else that Irondale probably needs to do to go up in wins again is to be more successful in conference games. The Knights were 5-13 against Northwest Suburban Conference foes a season ago.

That is no easy task considering some of the powerhouse teams that reside in the Northwest Suburban. DeMars tabbed Maple Grove, Robbinsdale Armstrong, Champlin Park and Park Center as teams that should be very strong.

Irondale opens the season with a pair of non-conference home games this week. The Knights host Henry Sibley on Dec. 6 and St. Croix Prep on Dec. 9.

Northwest Suburban Conference play begins next week as Irondale travels to Maple Grove on Dec. 13 and hosts Osseo on Dec. 16. The rest of the Knights’ December schedule includes home games against Duluth East (Dec. 20) and Fridley (Dec. 22) and the Hastings holiday tournament (Dec. 29-30).

 

Knights in college

Of the six seniors on last year’s roster, two are currently on college basketball teams. Kevin Schramm plays at Anoka Ramsey Community College and Uwana Etuk-Akpan is at Rochester Community College.

 

Brian Meyers can be reached at bmeyers@lillienews.com or 651-748-7819. Follow him on Twitter @BMeyersNews.

 

2016-17 Irondale High School boys basketball schedule

Dec. 6 vs. Henry Sibley 7 p.m.

Dec. 9 vs. St. Croix Prep 7 p.m.

Dec. 13 at Maple Grove 7 p.m.

Dec. 16 vs. Osseo 7 p.m.

Dec. 20 vs. Duluth East 7 p.m.

Dec. 22 vs. Fridley 7 p.m.

Dec. 29 at Hastings tournament TBA

Dec. 30 at Hastings tournament TBA

Jan. 3 vs. St. Francis 7 p.m.

Jan. 6 vs. Totino-Grace 7 p.m.

Jan. 10 at Spring Lake Park 7 p.m.

Jan. 12 at Robbinsdale Armstrong 7 p.m.

Jan. 17 vs. Anoka 7 p.m.

Jan. 20 at Park Center 7 p.m.

Jan. 24 at Andover 7 p.m.

Jan. 27 vs. Spring Lake Park 7 p.m.

Jan. 31 at Blaine 7 p.m.

Feb. 3 at Osseo 7 p.m.

Feb. 6 at Totino-Grace 7 p.m.

Feb. 9 vs. Maple Grove 7 p.m.

Feb. 14 vs. Robbinsdale Armstrong 7 p.m.

Feb. 17 at Champlin Park 7 p.m.

Feb. 21 vs. Park Center 7 p.m.

Feb. 24 vs. Coon Rapids 7 p.m.

Feb. 28 at Centennial 7 p.m.

Mar. 3 vs. Elk River 7 p.m.

 

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