Pettit, Hale are potent 1-2 punch

Senior point guard Jack Pettit could battle for SLC Player of the Year this season. (Rick Benavides/SLN)


By Tim Wester

Sports Correspondent

Sometimes a high school basketball team clicks at the most unexpected times.

Exhibit A being the Union Grove boys basketball team, which was in the midst of a three-game losing streak with a modest 8-8 record in early February of last season.

With no momentum behind them, the Broncos won six of their final eight games to finish 14-10 overall and 8-6 in the Southern Lakes Conference.

Many of the late bloomers from last year’s team are back and eager to make Union Grove a team to watch in the Southern Lakes Conference race this season.

The Broncos return an athletic group of wing players, led by first team Southern Lakes Conference guard and three-year starter Jack Pettit (15.3 points per game last season). The 6-foot-3 guard led the team in scoring, assists and steals last season, and will also provide help in the paint as needed.

Second team all-conference guard Riley Hale (13.8) and dynamic wing Jacob Ross also return to round out a loaded starting backcourt.

“Jack, Riley, and Jacob will be a huge part of what we do this year,” said Broncos coach Dave Pettit, who is starting his 23rd season as coach. “Jack can do a bit of everything, while Riley is a very good scorer that can put it on the floor and stroke it from deep and can heat up quickly. Jacob really came on strong at the end of last year and can do a bit of everything as well.”

Returning guards Tyler Gamble, Nate Koch, Luke Hansel, and Collin Long will provide the Broncos with valuable backcourt depth.

While the Broncos are loaded at the guard position, the frontcourt is a bit of a work-in-progress. Pettit must replace departed frontcourt cogs Jake Hansen, Matt Nelson, and Sam Blaszcynski.

Lanky 6-5 sophomore Sam Rampulla looks to pick up the slack after a solid freshman varsity season.

“Sam played a lot last year and started for a good part of the season,” Pettit said. “He is bigger, faster, and stronger this year, and we are hoping for big things from him as well.”

The rest of the frontcourt is up for grabs.

Junior forwards Luke Nelson and Jack Clark are expected to fill out the frontcourt rotation, along with 6-6 forward Dax Cramer, who returns to basketball after sitting out last year to focus on club volleyball. Eli Sheckel is also returning to the team after playing club volleyball last season.

“We have some juniors that we are looking toward for some physicality in Nelson and Clark, who were both starters on the junior varsity team last year,” Pettit said. “But our questions will be our rebounding and inside play, both on offense and defense.

If the Broncos can answer their frontcourt questions effectively, they figure to be a contender in the Southern Lakes Conference.

“The teams to beat in conference are Burlington, Westosha Central, and Wilmot,” Pettit said. “I think Burlington will be the favorite, but I think we will compete as well.”

“This is the most athletic we have been in awhile and if we can have good team chemistry, play tough defense, and share the ball, we can compete for a conference title and maybe make some noise in the playoffs.”

Winter evenings at Union Grove High will certainly be exciting.