Reloading wasn’t a problem for the Colo-Nesco boys’ basketball team in 2013-14.
The Royals had to replace 74 percent of their scoring and 75 percent of their rebounding off last year’s 14-10 team. But thanks to a couple of younger kids stepping up and great versatility at a couple of positions, Colo-Nesco did even better this season, finishing 15-7 overall and winning the Iowa Star Conference South Division with a 13-3 record.
Colo-Nesco head coach Pat Wynja went with a smaller lineup this season after losing so much off last year’s team. But the move paid off as the Royals’ speed and quickness proved difficult to handle.
"We lacked team size, so we had four guards on the floor at all times," Wynja said. "That gave us mismatches on offenses a lot, but also gave our opponents some mismatches too. Being smaller, we wanted to get the game more up-tempo and make higher possession games. The kids did a great job of that as we averaged eight more possessions than last year."
It took some time for the extra speed and aggressiveness to show on the court. The inexperienced showed early for the Royals as they were a .500 team through their first six games.
But after getting a forfeit win over Meskwaki on Dec. 17, Colo-Nesco began to find its groove. The Royals won their next five games – crushing Clarksville and CAL, scoring convincing wins over East Marshall and Northeast Hamilton and pulling off a 59-52 win over Janesville on Jan. 14.
"We really improved over Christmas break and the month afterward," Wynja said. "The kids did a great job of learning quick and not being intimidated. Our defense started to click and we rebounded at a higher level."
An off night against a good Dunkerton team on the road halted Colo-Nesco’s streak on Jan. 21. But the Royals bounced back to take down Ankeny Christian Academy, North Tama and Waterloo Christian before suffering a close 61-56 loss at home to Don Bosco on Jan. 31.
The Royals started February with three straight victories. They handled Tripoli by a 62-44 score at home on Feb. 3, won a huge game over Meskwaki at home, 68-58, on Feb. 7 and then edged GMG on the road by a 68-65 margin on Feb. 8.
Colo-Nesco ended the regular season with a 67-49 non-conference loss to Roland-Story, a Class 2A school – in Story City on Feb. 14.
It appeared the Royals were still in prime position to make a strong postseason run against 1A competition. But it was not to be as they were handed a 56-46 loss by Martensdale St. Marys in their district opener on Feb. 22.
The overall accomplishments of the season outweighed the early postseason exit for Colo-Nesco.
"Our kids battled, worked hard and had a successful season," Wynja said. "They wanted to win and understood the effort it takes to win. This was a fun team to coach and a fun team to watch."
Colo-Nesco averaged 58.1 points per game. The Royals shot 45 percent from the field (494 of 1,106), 33 percent from 3-point range (95 of 285) and 61 percent from the line (195 of 321).
Colo-Nesco also averaged 14.9 assists against 11.7 turnovers per game.
On defense the Royals allowed an average of 49.1 points and limited opposing teams to 39 percent shooting from the field. Despite its lack of height, Colo-Nesco also outrebounded its foes by a 30.0-27.3 average.
Senior Cole Ozbun and sophomores Christian Reischauer, Tanner Clatt and Brady Stoeffler all averaged in double figures offensively to lead a balanced Royal attack.
Ozbun put up 11.1 points per game, shooting a team-best 56 percent from the field and hitting 60 percent from the line as a first-team all-ISC South Division pick. The guard/undersized forward also averaged 4.5 rebounds and he dished out 2.0 assists per game and tallied a total of 36 steals and nine blocks on the season.
Reischauer made the South Division second team as he paced Colo-Nesco in scoring with 12.6 points per game. Reischauer shot 45 percent from the field and 70 percent from the line and he chipped in 6.1 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 2.1 steals per game as a terrific all-around player at forward.
Clatt and Stoeffler were the top outside shooting threats for Colo-Nesco.
Clatt averaged 11.3 points and made 45 3-pointers at a 37-percent clip. He shot 39 percent overall from the field and a team-best 82 percent from the line and added 4.6 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.4 steals per game.
Stoeffler battled injury problems during the season, but he still averaged 10.8 points, 3.5 assists, 3.4 rebounds and 1.2 steals at guard. Stoeffler converted 26 3-pointers at a 39-percent rate and he shot 43 percent overall from the field and 68 percent from the line.
Grant Tiarks was another major contributor as a sophomore for Colo-Nesco. He averaged 5.0 points shooting 53 percent from the field and also pulled down 5.4 rebounds and tallied 1.7 assists and 1.5 steals per game.
Senior forward Casy Angell, freshman guard Garret Tiarks, senior Zach Jamison and sophomore Christian Montgomery all saw action in at least 15 games for Colo-Nesco.
Angell averaged 3.5 points and 3.8 rebounds, Garret put up 3.0 points and 1.5 rebounds per game, Jamison averaged 0.8 points and 0.7 rebounds in 15 games and Montgomery tallied 0.5 points on average in 17 games.
Colo-Nesco loses only four seniors - Ozbun, Angell, Jamison and Evan Webb.
"Our senior class wasn’t large in numbers, but it left a lasting impact," Wynja said. "They averaged 14 wins in their varsity years and earned a conference championship. They meshed well with the younger kids in the program and have bright futures ahead of them."
With four of their top five scorers returning, the Royals figure to be in the mix for a conference championship and a run at the state tournament in 2014-15.
"These kids have a great chance to be very successful," Wynja said. "If they work and get stronger, there is no limit to how good they can be."