Coming into the season, Dieterich Movin’ Maroons head basketball coach Josh Krumwiede knew he had holes to fill at the guard position.
One player that the Movin’ Maroons knew they returned from the year before was Collin Hartke, who averaged close to 15 points per game as a junior.
While his per game scoring numbers may have dipped slightly as a senior, he got more players involved in the offense and boosted his assist numbers.
“Before the year started, Collin had a little bit of the 1,000 point mark on his mind and I think ended up just about 70 points short,” Krumwiede said. “But he was able to make his team better. He could’ve made it all about him and everybody probably would’ve understood. But he didn’t do that, he chose to make his team better and I think he’ll be remembered in a better light for what he did for the team this year.
“Even though he wasn’t able to score as many points per game, but he led our team in assists this year was over four per game. I’m very happy and impressed with how he handled himself this year.”
Also returning to the team was senior big man Cole Niebrugge, who worked to be more athletic and fluid and well-rounded.
“The biggest jump Cole made was from his junior to senior year,” Krumwiede said. “At times, he was our best player. In the Altamont game at our place, he had 15 at half. Both of my seniors were great leaders and although they won’t be putting anything on banners for people to remember them that way, but they’ll be remembered in a lot of other ways, arguable more important ways.”
Krumwiede had a decent idea from some of his younger players the season prior as to would step in, but had two players primed for the position step away just before the start of the season.
“It was tough,” Krumwiede said. “One started every game the previous year and were expecting him to take a leap. We knew it wouldn’t be easy.”
That job became even tougher after the team’s scrimmage on “Meet the Maroons” night, when, with just 30 seconds remaining in the scrimmage, the player who was expected to play a major part in filling the role in the backcourt, Bryce Budde, suffered a broken wrist that sidelined him until after Christmas.
“[Budde] had been logging a lot of summer minutes,” said Krumwiede. “It got him to kind of turn the corner and was ready for his sophomore year. It was pretty devastating. It was already a next man up situation, but it really turned to that once he went down. I really had never dealt with injuries, so to lose somebody to that significant of an injury and not really know what was going to happen was tough.
“We just developed the next man up mentality and that’s when [Andrew] Lidy really stepped up as a sophomore and played a lot of minutes, as well as Jack Westendorf who was a reliable sixth man.”
But the Movin’ Maroons navigated through the adversity to two-straight wins to open up the season. The first coming in a 50-35 win over host Cumberland in the Cumberland Thanksgiving Tournament, before a 54-50 win over Okaw Valley before falling to Charleston, a Class 3A team in the final.
“For a Thanksgiving Tournament, it’s a pretty tough tournament,” Krumwiede said. “That was pretty tough for us, but we had some positives. We were pretty pleased with our outcome there.
“I can’t say enough about those guys who were probably going to be seventh and eighth men turning into starters and sixth men,” Krumwiede said. “They were able to keep us above water and then some.
“We set some pretty realistic goals to start the year. The whole team adopted this plan that we wanted to finish in the top three of the conference. We were able to eventually get third in the conference. Once everyone came together and started to figure out our identity, we were able to use that to our advantage.”
Following a loss to St. Anthony on the 20th of December to make the Movin’ Maroons 5-3, they rattled off three straight wins in their own holiday tournament, defeating Oblong, Arcola and North Clay, respectively to reach their second championship game in as many holiday tournaments, but came up just short in a 57-50 loss to Newton.
“Newton had some pretty big wins this season,” Krumwiede said. “At the time, the loss was pretty devastating for us because that made four years in a row that we lost in the championship game of our holiday tournament. But as many teams do, we were able to find a way to come back and not become a shell of ourselves. It ended up not being so shameful with the season they had.”
After Budde came back for the Flora game in a 59-47 win, the Movin’ Maroons were quickly put to the test just three days later with the Altamont Indians coming to town.
Early on, the Maroons could do no wrong and even took a four-point lead into halftime. But the Indians came out and combined for 40 points in the second half while the Movin’ Maroons scored just eight points to Altamont’s 18 in the fourth quarter to fall 65-41.
“Altamont really beefed up their schedule. They went down to Sesser Valier and played in the championship game of that tournament and lost a close game to what would become the eventual final four team in Goreville,” Krumwiede said. “I wish we could go back to that game. We played better than them in the first half, but we really had a bad second half and were unable to weather their storm.
“We had a pretty good idea going into the season that St. Anthony and Altamont that those were the teams that our season would hinge on and whether or not we were able to beat those teams. We came up just a bit short.”
The loss to Altamont didn’t seem to discourage the Movin’ Maroons any, as they rattled off six straight wins leading up to another matchup with Altamont in the semifinal of the National Trail Conference Tournament.
“We’ve got to play 32 minutes and that first Altamont game was the epitome of that,” Krumwiede said. “In the semifinal it ended up being the fourth quarter. We had two really bad quarters. You could argue we played better than them for six of the eight quarters, but unfortunately that’s not how they factor in winners and losers.
“After both Altamont games we thought we’d get them again and they beat us three times. But each time we lost to them, we were able to win games after that. I thought that showed a lot of resiliency from our team and the guys that we had.”
The Movin’ Maroons had to bounce back and play Neoga for third place less than 24 hours later and earned a 48-41 win.
“We’ve played in that third place game for the past two years,” Krumwiede said. “We came back and went to battle. I was really proud of them after that one. It’s not always easy to get the kids up for games like that especially with such a quick turnaround and it not being the championship game.
“We’ve had quite a few battles with Neoga the past couple of years and we were able to come out on top that time. I think that gave us another life and propelled us into some of the games we had after that.”
Including the win over Neoga in the conference tournament, the Movin’ Maroons won 11 of their final 13 games following the first loss to Altamont with their only losses coming to Altamont the second time and a Woodlawn team that went on to play Goreville for a sectional championship.
The Movin’ Maroons earned their way to the regional final to face a familiar foe; the Altamont Indians for the third time that season.
“There’s definitely two sides to the coin,” said Krumwiede. “We wanted an opportunity, but having to play them on their home floor it’s really tough to play there. We were there a month before for the semifinal and it was tough then, but it was even tougher in the regional championship.
“We just couldn’t get anything going. They were just on fire and played that game really well. Their gameplan against us worked a lot better than our gameplan against them. John [Niebrugge] did a great job. Those seniors they had really stepped up and played a really good game against us.”
The Movin’ Maroons fell to the Indians 64-44 to bring an end to their season at 23-9.