New Knoxville reloads in search of return trip to Columbus

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NNew Knoxville’s Brooke Niemeyer
Last year was a dream season for the New Knoxville girls basketball team. Tim Hegemier’s crew finished as the D-IV state runner-up. But that was last year and this year the Rangers have more questions than answers. Graduation hit Hegemier hard, however, don’t feel too bad for New Knoxville as the talent pool is still full led by 5’ 6” senior point guard Brooke Niemeyer.


Last year was a dream season for the New Knoxville Lady Rangers. Tim Hegemier’s crew finished as the D-IV state runner-up losing to Columbus Africentric. But that was last year and this year New Knoxville has more questions than answers.

Graduation hit Hegemier hard, taking a large portion of last season’s team. However, don’t feel too bad for the Rangers as the talent pool is still full led by 5’ 6” senior point guard Brooke Niemeyer. Not only will she be the leader of the team, but also the center of the offense.

“We are expecting Brooke to do a lot of scoring this season,” noted Hegemier about his talented point guard.

Last season the Rangers were all about half-court offense and for a good reason. Led by Nicole Wright, who averaged 12 points and 7 rebounds a game, Knoxville was big and strong in the post. This season that has changed. The strength of the team moves to the perimeter, led by Niemeyer and fellow seniors Katie Wirwille and Bethany Howe.

Hegemier is turning towards his three seniors for most of the team’s offense, replacing the numbers lost to graduation.

“Katie Wirwille is very quick and I believe she can give us six to eight points a game,” commented Hegemier. “Bethany Howe played junior varsity last season, but I see her getting about four to six points a game for us at the varsity level.”

With those three running the show, the Rangers will switch from the pounding offense of last season to the Running Rangers in 2007-08. But, this doesn’t mean that New Knoxville is void of post players; they are just inexperienced.

Junior Morgan Reineke is the Rangers top option in the post. At 5’11” she posses talent and could have played last season at the varsity level. However, with a glut of post players she spent the season at the junior varsity level, garnering much needed playing time.

“Morgan played junior varsity last season because I had so much height,” noted Hegemier. “I felt she needed playing time last season. This year her she is still trying to get out of volleyball mood and into basketball form. She will be a solid player once she gets going.”

The other junior looking to make a splash this season is 5’3” Casey Horstman. A guard, Horstman provides yet another backcourt option for Hegemier. Her coach is hoping she can be both an offensive and defensive star.

“Casey can give us eight to ten points a game, but she is very tough on defense,” noted Hegemier.

Overall New Knoxville has the talent, but putting it all together will be the key. The team spent the summer playing together and going to camps. But, how they mesh on the court is still in question.

“The girls played a lot of basketball this summer,” noted Hegemier about his team. “But we still have a ways to go.”

Other then experience Hegemier’s biggest concern is depth or lack off. The MAC’s smallest school currently only has seven players on the varsity level. Any prolonged injury to one of his five starters will be a severe blow.

“I can’t afford to have any injuries with only seven girls currently playing,” commented Hegemier.

The lack of depth could also be a great concern playing in the extremely difficult MAC, but Hegemier sees nothing but positives playing in the league.

“I don’t really see any downfall to playing in the MAC. The schedule makes your team tough and we had three teams in the state semi-finals last season,” noted Hegemier.

As to where he sees his team finishing in the MAC, Hegemier is targeting a top five finish.

“The league is wide open this season,” said Hegemier. “Versailles with Justine Raterman is up there, but I feel we can finish in the top four. I have three girls capable of making plays.”

The 2007-08 Rangers will have a different look, but they hope the outcome is a duplicate of last season.

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