New group of Trojan boys accepting varsity torch
■ Peterman and Dimmitt will be leaned on heavily in the early going.
Height and Trojan boys basketball haven’t always gone hand in hand, but if there’s one thing the program has in spades this season, it’s size.
Three players are listed on the depth chart at 6-foot-4 and above, and another three stand at 6-foot-1 or taller. While size clearly isn’t everything on the basketball court, the talent coupled with it could have Fairfield fans looking skyward this winter.
Of the six long-limbed players, only one of them was a regular on the varsity court last season. Four of them are juniors coming straight from last season’s 14-7 JV campaign, and along with a few less leggy teammates, make up the varsity squad’s new-look lineup this winter.
“We’ll be pretty new this year,” said Fairfield head coach Tyler Miklo. “We’ll be a lot bigger team than we’ve been in years past, and we feel like we’ve got some guys who shoot it pretty well. We’re excited about the team.”
The two players with the most previous varsity experience, seniors Spencer Peterman and Darrin Dimmitt, should help the younger players become accustomed to the varsity pace at first.
Dimmitt played spot minutes as a junior but brings his excellent passing skills into the starting lineup at point guard, and the 6-foot-3 Peterman has good speed and the leaping ability to match at power forward.
Kyle Weirup, another senior, steps into the starting backcourt after biding his time in the program the past four seasons. Weirup only attempted 13 shots on the varsity court last winter but sank nearly half of them, and his experience playing with a majority of the players at the JV level should also come in handy.
Relative newcomers to the varsity lineup, 6-foot-5 center Vince Horras and 6-foot-1 guard Matt Carr, round out the initial starting lineup.
Horras led the JV squad in scoring as a sophomore with 12.5 points per game and 54 percent shooting. The junior also was the team’s top shot blocker and rebounder, and he should help even the playing field a bit against the area’s other tall lineups.
Carr, on the other hand, was the JV team’s second-leading scorer last season and now gives the varsity lineup a legitimate 3-point shot. Carr made 38 treys as a sophomore, though the junior also is looking to extend his versatility this winter.
“He wants to be more than just a shooter, and that’s great for him. He’s looking to attack the rim, and we hope to see that out of him,” Miklo said. Matt is a kid who loves to shoot and loves to work on different things and make his game better.”
The Trojans have solid depth inside to put alongside Horras and Peterman. Junior Landon Gamrath, the tallest player of the bunch at 6-foot-7, will be a scary sight to driving guards everywhere, and 6-foot-3 senior Jake Greiner returns after a year hiatus.
Fairfield also welcomes new talent in on the wing to replace the losses of Dillon Fry and Brent Buch.
Joe Hietpas, a junior, might be the best scorer off the bench. Other juniors Jordan Whitney, Alex Shier and Keagan Drish will be in the mix for minutes, and sophomore Tanner Deao could split time between the JV and varsity levels as the season progresses.
“We’re looking for contributions from a bunch of guys off the bench. We think we could play 10 guys who could help us,” Miklo said. “All those guys are going to battle for minutes.”
The Trojans improved from 4-18 in Miklo’s first season to 8-14 last year, and the third-year coach continues to stress the importance of out-working opponents as he looks to take Fairfield to the next level. He wants his Trojans to scrap for every lose ball, win the battle on the boards, and sacrifice their bodies for charges.
“The competitiveness is where we have to keep getting better,” Miklo said. “We’re happy with the progress, but we’re never going to be satisfied until we’re right there in every game we play, and teams are worried about coming to Fairfield because the gym’s packed.
“Every day we’ve just got to go to work. That’s been our motto all year, to work hard and let the chips fall where they may. Win-loss record right now has to be secondary until we get that culture developed and winning is expected,” he added.
The Southeast Conference has been tough in recent years, and that doesn’t figure to change anytime soon. Mount Pleasant won the Class 3A state championship last winter and might boast the best newcomer in Faith Pope, and both Washington and Keokuk welcome back several athletes.
“Mount Pleasant will be very good and they’re probably thinking about a state run again. Keokuk will be very good, Fort Madison will be much improved, and Washington will be reloading,” said Miklo. “In my three years here, this will definitely be the strongest this conference has been. I look for a lot of teams to be real competitive.”
That tough slate begins tonight against none other than Mount Pleasant.