WINTER SPORTS PREVIEW: Warriors seek another great year on the courtParsons coaching his 49th season
Head Coach: Fred Parsons, 49th year
Key Returnees: Thomas Fitzsimmons (Sr.), Garrett Saunders (Jr.),
Outlook: It looks like Van Buren is on the verge of another winning season. After having success in baseball and football, the Warriors’ hot streak will likely continue.
The Van Buren boys’ basketball team expects to have another successful campaign this winter under head coach Fred Parsons.
The Warriors chances for another winning record are high since they return nearly their entire team, including their starting five from a year ago.
The only player from the 2012-2013 team to graduate was Wayne Mast, who came off the bench for Parsons’s club. Everyone else is back. That includes the leading scorer from last year, senior Thomas Fitzsimmons, who averaged about 14.5 points per game.
Fitzsimmons is one of two big men on the Warrior roster. He stands at 6 foot 5 inches, while fellow senior and returning letter-winner Tanner Smith stands at 6 foot 4 inches. Parsons said it’s quite unusual for a 1A school to have two forwards as tall as those two boys.
Junior Garrett Saunders will bring the ball up the court this year just as he did last year. Joining him in the Warrior backcourt will be sophomore Will Mertens and junior Brandon Plecker.
Other performers who will likely receive minutes off the bench are senior Robby Laughlin, junior Braden Starnes, sophomore Austin Bartholomew, sophomore Robert Barker, junior Pedrick Garrett and senior Drew Nolting.
In all, 20 boys are out for basketball this year at Van Buren High School. Parsons said he’s pleased with that number, but he’s also pleased with the caliber of those athletes.
“We’ve got some good, experienced kids,” he said. “And they’re good students, too.”
The Warriors finished 14-9 a year ago, fourth in the conference behind Danville, Burlington Notre Dame and Holy Trinity. Parsons expects those three to be Van Buren’s main competition once again. The Warriors ended the 2012-2013 season by falling to Danville in the district tournament semifinal after defeating Holy Trinity in the first round.
Danville was almost untouchable a year ago. Danville won 26 straight games to start the season before finally losing in the state semifinals to Storm Lake-St. Mary’s. The winning streak included monster wins against Van Buren by scores of 94-33, 93-42 and 80-40. Parsons said Danville figures to be good again this year although the Bears did lose three key players from last year’s squad, including the Soukup twins, Steven and Michael.
Luckily, Parsons believes he has a team that can compete with anyone. He said practices have been going well so far. He’s been having the boys practice twice a day in the early going.
He said one disadvantage the Warriors face that other teams do not is that they only have one gym available for practice. That means the boys and girls’ varsity and junior varsity teams are using the space all day long. The boys start practice at 6:15 a.m. some days, while the girls could be in the gym until 9 p.m. or later.
The coach hopes the rough practice schedule will end when Van Buren adds an activities center to the high school, containing another gym. He hopes this is the last year all the basketball teams have to share a single floor.
Parsons is in his 49th year of coaching. When asked if he planned to coach half a century, he replied, “Who knows?”
“There’s not much else to do in Keosauqua on a Friday night,” he said.
SEISC South Division: 2012-13 Standings
Team, Conference Record, Overall Record
Danville 20-0 27-1
Burl-Notre Dame 17-3 18-5
Holy Trinity 14-5 16-6
Van Buren 12-8 14-9
Cardinal 10-8 11-11
West Burlington 7-12 7-13
New London 7-12 7-16
Central Lee 7-13 7-16
Maharishi 1-17 3-19
Harmony 1-18 3-20
* Playoffs counted towards conference record
Van Buren 2013-14 Schedule: Varsity Basketball
12/3 vs. New London
12/6 vs. Harmony
12/10 @ Danville
12/13 @ West Burlington
12/17 vs. Notre Dame
12/20 vs. Cardinal
12/21 vs. Scotland County
1/3 @ Holy Trinity
1/7 vs. Central Lee
1/10 vs. MSAE
1/14 @ New London
1/17 @ Harmony
1/18 @ Davis County
1/21 vs. Danville
1/24 vs. Danville
1/28 @ Notre Dame
1/31 @ Cardinal
2/4 vs. Holy Trinity
2/7 @ Central Lee
2/11 @ MSAE