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Athletic Redhawks seek conference title in 2018-19

November 26, 2018
CJ Eilers - Editor ( , Traer Star-Clipper

Head Coach: Alex Tagtow

2018 Record: 8-15 (L to Gladbrook-Reinbeck in Regionals)

After a successful fall season on the football field, North Tama athletes have laced up their sneakers and hit the court for coach Alex Tagtow at the helm of the basketball program, which seeks greater success this season.

Article Photos

From left to right: Paden Ketter, Nathan Urban, Joshua Frana, Kameron Bergen, Skyler Staker, Hale Hulme, Zach Greiner, Cael Even, Jack Dostal, Ryan McLean, Dylan Hosek, Caleb DeBoef and Noah Bond.

Tagtow is entering his third season with North Tama, having coached the current seniors and juniors that make up the 13-man varsity roster the past three seasons. He watched many of these same players excel during the Redhawks' 8-2 football season and believes similar or better success awaits them because of their comfort and experience with him as coach.

"From these first few practices, I've seen their experience," Tagtow said. "These guys were all here when I started three years ago. They understand the way we want to do things here. We have a good group of athletes, which was evident with the football season. These are the same guys that had a successful football season and I want them to continue their success here."

The Redhawks are without Nic Sierra and Lance Zobel after graduating last year, the former being last season's leading scorer (15.3 ppg) and the latter one of North Tama's all-time best three-point shooters. Despite the losses, North Tama returns a core with good size and length all around who will be able to get up and down the floor with ease, according to Tagtow.

"With have to replace that scoring by committee honesty," Tagtow said. "We aren't going to get 15 points and 52 threes in a season from one guy. It will have to come piece by piece. There's no one name who will step out to take most of that load because most our guys are familiar faces that have seen time on the floor. Everyone will do a bit more to get us better."

That athleticism will translate defensively enough to be aggressive for the steal and "take some chances" without compromising wins like was done last season. Leading the Redhawks at the point will be Hale Hulme, their returning scorer at 10.7 ppg and also led with 3.2 assists. Hulme is on the verge of setting the all-time assists record in North Tama athletic history, shy of the record by 70 assists. With that in mind, the senior has lofty goals for himself and the team after a less than stellar 2018 year.

"Last season didn't go as well as we wanted it to, but we were contesting every other team," Hulme said. "This year, I want everyone catching the ball or screening to make the offense go and score more this season. I want to score more than the past two years combined and set that assist record."

Also looking to move forward from last year's struggles is senior Cael Even, who has seen varsity minutes under Tagtow since the latter's arrival. After recovering from a foot injury over the summer and being an integral piece of the football team, Even has his sights on making more of an impact this season after averaging 6.3 ppg and 4.3 rpg his junior year.

"We really could have been better last season and did do as well as we'd hoped for," Even said. "This season, we can do a lot better. We have a great starting five and a good bench with shooting and big guys. These guys are versatile enough to play different positions."

The Redhawks will look to Noah Bond in the post this season, where he averaged 7.4 ppg and 5.7 rpg, to step up this season. Zach Greiner, Jack Dostal, Ryan McLean and Caleb DeBoef will also seek more minutes after each served a limited role in 2018.

"Experience and athleticism are our strengths," Tagtow said. "Hale is a four-year starter and we have a lot of experience back this season. We just have to be more consistent. We show flashes of great things, but we don't always do them in practice. That means shooting the ball more consistently, be better defensively and finally not be great just one day and average the next day."

As practice begins and the team trades in a football for a basketball, Even feels things are already better from a standpoint of togetherness, work ethic and goal setting. As a senior, he will be asked to take a larger role, whatever it may be.

"You can define our team by our hustle because a lot of guys put in effort on each possession," Even said. "We definitely getting to the right spots, rebounding the ball and shooting is always something we can work on. I hope to be a leading scorer, but if not I want to benefit this team in any way I can."

And those expectations come from his coach as well in 2018-19.

"Cael has a nice inside and outside game I expect to see a lot of this year," Tagtow said. "He has huge potential to be the guy who does it all for us. He rebounds well, guards big guys and small guys."

The 2018-19 schedule will be a challenge both in non-conference and conference play as the Iowa Star South features teams such as Meskwaki and Baxter with talent of their own.

"We play Meskwaki right way in our first week and they played in our district final to lose by only single digits to G-R," Tagtow said. "Dunkerton later in the year played in a substate game. Montezuma only lost four games last year. We have tough teams sprinkled in all season."

"A lot of area teams lost good players, but Meskwaki will be a big conference game for us," Hulme adds. "Baxter has a good player coming back, but I'm confident we can compete against anyone in our conference."

Ultimately, these two seniors hope for a shot at the conference title and to make a deeper run in District play after seeing success in the fall.

"My message to them has been to continue what they started in the fall," Tagtow said. "They had a great season and that was because they worked hard and wanted to be great. We want to keep that going and have another great season for these same players."

The Redhawks will open their season with hosting Waterloo on Monday, Nov. 26 and Meskwaki on Tuesday, Nov. 27 before travelling to Colo-Nesco on Friday, Nov. 30 for three conference matchups right out of the gate.



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