Oakville boys’ basketball team learning, improving every day, head coach says

Oakville boys to square off against Mehlville this Friday

By STEPHEN GLOVER

After opening the season with a 67-28 win over Clayton in the first round of the Vianney Invitational, the Oakville Senior High School boys’ basketball team posted losses to Hazelwood Central and Fort Zumwalt South.

Despite the losses, 62-49 and 70-57, respectively, Oakville head coach Nick Traxler is optimistic about the 2007-2008 campaign.

“I think we’re improving and learning every day, which is good for us,” Traxler said.

“We’ve played three tough games and I think we’ve learned from each of those games,” he added.

One key to the Tigers’ success this season will be the trio of Brandon McCord, John Alexander and Justin Schoemehl.

McCord, a 6-foot-7-inch senior center, led the team with 9.7 points and 7.2 re-bounds per game last year while also recording 24 assists, 15 steals and 24 blocked shots.

“Brandon’s really the rock of our team,” Traxler said. “He’s coming off a tough football season and is getting into basketball shape.”

Alexander is a 6-foot-4-inch forward who averaged 7.4 points and 7.2 rebounds per game last year with 23 assists, 12 steals and seven blocked shots.

“John had a tremendous off-season,” Traxler said. “He dropped about 15-20 pounds and has come in quicker and stronger and we’re really proud of what he’s doing.”

Schoemehl should provide a solid presence with his 6-foot-5-inch frame. The senior forward averaged 8.3 points and 4.2 rebounds per game last year with 35 assists, 26 steals and six blocked shots.

“Justin’s a three-year varsity starter, which really helps us out,” Traxler said. “He brings experience and football toughness to our game.”

Seniors Damir Begovic, Jeremy Booker, Antoine Pickens and Steve Thiele also are expected to make significant contributions this season.

Begovic, a 6-foot guard, averaged 2.2 points and 0.8 rebounds per game last season while also recording 4 assists, 15 steals and one blocked shot.

“This is Damir’s third year on the varsity,” Traxler said. “He’s a tremendous shooter that plays extremely hard.”

Booker, a 6-foot-2-inch guard, enters the 2007-2008 season after sitting out most of last season.

“Jeremy had reconstructive surgery on his knee, so he sat out nearly all of last season,” Traxler said. “We’re really glad to have him on the team this year.”

Pickens appeared in 25 games last season and the 6-foot guard easily could crack the starting lineup. He averaged 7.3 points and 1.6 rebounds last year. He also had 39 assists, 26 steals and two blocked shots.

“Antoine plays real hard out on the floor,” Traxler said. “He very well could be in the starting lineup this season.”

Thiele is another player who could crack the starting lineup after seeing a lot of action last season. The 6-foot guard averaged 2.8 points and 1.3 rebounds per game while also putting together 30 assists, 23 steals and three blocked shots.

“Steve’s been in and out of the starting rotation since his sophomore year,” Traxler said. “He’s the type of player that’s going to get us positive minutes in the fourth quarter.”

The Tigers are back in action at 7 p.m. Friday when they play host to Mehlville (2-1) for Alumni Night.

“Any time you play an Andy Guethle team, you know they’ll play hard,” Traxler said. “We’re going to have to execute well in order to play with them.”