SUPERIOR — There’s an exciting buzz around Superior when it comes to the boys basketball team. After bettering its record last year by one more win than the previous season, the Wildcats bring back four starters and plenty of experience, with expectations of winning even more games this season.

“With so many players returning, we amped up our summer schedule and took steps in the right direction,” said Superior head coach Luke Chadwell. “We feel like we are deep and can play with a fast pace. We still have a lot we need to work on, but I am excited where we left off after the summer schedule.”

Leading the way for the returners is three-year starter Hunter Healey, who scored 11.7 points per game last season. The 6-foot, 2-inch senior was all-conference honorable mention. Fellow senior Jackson Gilbert, a 5-9 guard, is also back after averaging 3.4 points per contest last season.

Junior Conner Blackstone and sophomore Dane Miller round out the returning starters. Blackstone is a 6-0 junior guard that shot 39 percent from the 3-point line, while Miller is a 6-2 forward that hauled in 3.7 rebound per game to go with his 3.1 points.

Superior will hope to add some depth with a mix of underclassmen. Sophomores Jordan Brown (5-10, guard) and Seth Schnakenberg (6-0, forward) will join juniors AJ Leibel (5-9, guard), Zeke Meyer (6-0, forward), and Jedd Whitmore (6-2, forward) as players looking to make an impact this year.

Chadwell said sophomores Taygun Rothchild — a 5-9 forward — and Brett Miller (5-7, guard) also will have the opportunity to earn some playing time.

Superior opens the season with back-to-back home games, hosting Belleville-Republic Co. (Kan.) on Saturday and Fairbury on Tuesday. The Wildcats are in the C2-9 subdistrict and will compete with Doniphan-Trumbull, Sandy Creek, St. Cecilia and Sutton in the tournament at the end of the year. Chadwell believes Sutton and St. Cecilia are the top two teams everyone in the subdistrict will be trying to take down. As far as statewide, he thinks returning state champion Bancroft-Rosalie/Lyons-Decatur will have a solid shot at being at the top of the class once again.

Chadwell is going into his eighth season as the Wildcats’ head coach. As a program, Superior has totaled 15 state tournament appearances. The Wildcats have qualified for the state tournament just once since 1929, that was in 2006.

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