Hunters basketball coach Mike Devney, writing in the team’s widely-read printed newsletter Denfeld Basketball, says his team has “the potential to be very explosive and competitive” in the Lake Superior Conference and Section 7AAA this season.
“Our two leading scorers, Armon Freeman and Josh Reinertson, will enter their second season as varsity starters,” said Devney, who guided the Hunters to a 12-15 record in his first season at Denfeld a year ago. “We also look for big things from our other senior, Nino Franklin. His play at the post will be instrumental in this year’s success.”
Other Hunters who will compete for minutes, according to Devney: Jon Bongiovanni, Aiden Perrson, Carter Kilroy, Seth Frejie, Jake Plunkett, William Woodfork and Dane Duzuk, among others.
“We feel that we have substantial depth and can score points from the inside or outside,” said Devney, a former 25-year head coach at Esko with an impressive 72.60 percent winning percentage in 708 career games.
The Hunters, who put in extra hard work over the summer by attending several camps and competing in the Twin Ports League, begin official preseason workouts next Monday at historic Denfeld Gym.
Denfeld hosts its first-ever preseason jamboree on Saturday, Nov. 30 at Lincoln Park Middle School, with Duluth East, Rice Lake, Tartan, Centennial, Cambridge and Crosby taking part.
The Hunters begin regular season play Tuesday, Dec. 3 at defending Lake Superior Conference champion Hermantown.
“The Lake Superior Conference will be strong as always with Hermantown, Superior and Cloquet all fielding strong teams,” Devney said.
Denfeld has added Maple Grove, Irondale and Fridley to an already challenging regular season schedule.
“Our hope is the competitive schedule will toughen us up for tournament time,” said Devney. “Section 7AAA is more defined than in recent years, but five to six teams look to challenge for the title. Princeton returns as defending champs, but other teams will challenge them. Hibbing has excellent shooters. Cloquet will be strong inside again. Grand Rapids has the best player in the section. Winning three in a row will get you to the ‘Big Dance’. Any team that gets hot at the right time may be dancing at Target Center.”
Section 7AAA first-round playoff games will be played at the home site of the highest-ranked teams, with semifinal and championship games played at Cloquet.
“Hopefully, the Hunters will be there at the end and earn a fourth trip to the Minnesota state tournament in 2020, and our first since 2003,” Devney said.
Hunters Boy’s Basketball Notebook
Reinertson, a 2019-20 team captain who eclipsed the 1,000 career point mark last season, is a college division prospect, Devney said.
“Josh is an excellent shooter who hit 45-percent from the three-point line and averaged 16 points per game last season,” said Devney. “He’s a ‘gym rat’ who continues to improve and strives to get better every day. He is 100-percent a team man and does everything he can to make his teammates get better. He has gotten stronger during the off-season and has greatly improved his ability to finish at the rim. You add that to his three-point shooting and you come up with one of the best players in the area.”
Devney on last season: “The learning curve was steep, but the players responded well. There were some outstanding victories and a few heartbreaking losses, but it was an exciting team to watch and coach. The two wins over Esko and the tournament win against Hermantown showed what the team could accomplish. There was very good senior leadership and as a result a very close knit team.”