After dropping its fourth game in a row, a 62-52 decision at Alburnett, Feb. 7, to fall to 10-9 on the season, not many folks figured Edgewood-Colesburg would run the table the rest of the way to advance to a Substate 3 final matchup with eventual Class 1A state champion Wapsie Valley, but that is exactly what the Vikings did.
Coach Justin Olind’s team battled injury and illness all season, but the Vikings finally got healthy in mid-February, winning their final two regular-season contests and carrying a load of momentum into tournament play.
“The season was a roller coaster of ups, downs, and then more ups. We battled injuries and sickness throughout and had a lot of guys really step up and contribute,” said Olind. “The guys played their best basketball at the end of the year and gave themselves a chance to make the state tournament for the second time in school history. I couldn’t have asked for more this season as it showed what these guys are capable of.”
After opening postseason play with a win over East Buchanan, Ed-Co avenged a pair of losses to Central City and advanced to a district final match with Class 1A No.1 and unbeaten Easton Valley, where the Vikings upset the River Kings 59-56.
“The season was highlighted by getting everyone healthy and putting together the late-season run to win the District 5 title, and beating Easton Valley to do it,” Olind said.
“The guys steadily improved in all aspects as the season progressed. The biggest change came on the defensive end, where the guys really locked in on playing great team defense by working their hardest each possession and rebounding with a purpose,” he added. “Offensively, the team took much better care of the ball and did a great job of finding a great shot on most possessions. The guys wanted to learn and believed in each other.”
A solid senior class that was a part of 67 wins in four years led the Vikings, and two of those players, Spencer Staner and Riley Ashline, paced the team statistically.
Staner was a do-it-all guard and led Ed-Co with 264 points (10.6 per game) and led the team with 73 assists. Ashline was solid in the post, averaging 8.8 points and leading the team with six rebounds a game.
“I want to thank the senior class for four great years of involvement in basketball. Riley, Spencer, Brayden Stannard, Jonathan Kearns and Christian Weston have worked hard and left their mark on the program,” Olind said. “Over their four years they have been part of a lot of success at Ed-Co, but most importantly, they have done it by being outstanding young men that have represented the program and their school at a high level.”
Look for another solid Viking team next year, as Olind returns six players who were in the regular rotation.
Junior Parker Rochford averaged 14.8 points per game in an injury-plagued season, junior Keegan Hansel put up five points and 4.4 rebounds a contest, and Quintin Hess will be back for his senior year after averaging five points per game.
Sophomore Korey Putz averaged 8.8 points per game, twin brother Konnor Putz five points a night, and sophomore swingman Jack Wiskus three points a contest.
“The foundation has been built for a very strong future for the Ed-Co boys basketball program. The JV team had a lot of success and earned a 20-1 record. Our JV 2 team lost only three times,” said Olind. ”The team will return a lot of strong players that gained plenty of experience this season. The deep tournament run gave these guys a lot of valuable experience that will act as a great motivator to work hard and continue to get better to make an even deeper run next year.”
“The end of the year always brings a period of reflection. Looking back on the season, I can’t say enough about the communities of Edgewood and Colesburg, the students, the school and my coaching staff for the support they have shown. I am very thankful for being a part of this amazing school district and look forward to next season.”