Casey Korn has talent to work with in his first season as head boys basketball coach at St. Clair High School.
Korn, a 2005 graduate of Northwest High School, replaces Greg Dunigan.
“The kids are working hard in practice. We have a lot to put in over a little amount of time,” Korn said. “We had half of our team in the first week of practice because of football. Those kids are picking it up. Hopefully this week will be better.”
Following his days at Northwest, Korn played basketball for one year and baseball for four years at Cornell College in Mount Vernon, Iowa, an NCAA Division III school.
Korn’s first coaching job was during his senior year at Cornell, when he was the freshman boys basketball coach at Mount Vernon High School in Iowa.
For the last three years, Korn has been the head varsity boys basketball coach at Calamus-Wheatland High School in Wheatland, Iowa.
During his first season at Calamus-Wheatland, Korn led the Warriors to the Iowa Class 1A state championship game, finishing in second place.
St. Clair had a record last season of 9-19 overall and 2-5 in the Four Rivers Conference.
The Bulldogs are learning to play under Korn’s system.
“First and foremost, we want to compete defensively. Whether we’re playing full-court, half-court, man-to-man or zone, we’re going to try to make it hard for our opponents to score,” Korn said. “Offensively, we’ll try to push the pace. The kids are adjusting to playing faster and seeing the floor like they need to do.”
Korn said the Bulldogs have seven players who have started games on the varsity level in the past.
Leading the way is senior 6-1 guard Neyko Dominguez, who averaged 14.8 points and 4.8 assists per game last year.
“Neyko was slightly injured at the end of the football season, but he’s getting his legs back and is doing well,” Korn said. “He’s played a lot of basketball. It’s nice to have him at the point. We’re going to put a lot on his shoulders.”
St. Clair has plenty of size at its disposal.
For that reason, 6-3 senior Adam Brott, who averaged 10 points per game last season, is moving from the post to the perimeter this season.
“Adam is making the transition from the post to the guard spot,” Korn said. “He’s learning. It’s going to be a process.”
Brandon York, a 6-4 senior forward, also was a starter last season.
“Brandon and Adam both will be essential to what we do. Hopefully they’ll stay healthy,” Korn said. “It’s no secret that other teams are going to focus on Neyko defensively. We need other options. We need other players to shoot the ball and score points.”
Other returning varsity players are 5-9 senior guard Austin Gotway, 6-1 senior guard Evan Murphy, 6-5 senior forward Will Rolley, 6-5 senior forward Evan Powell and 6-7 junior forward Ben Feddersen.
Rolley, Powell and Feddersen give the Bulldogs good size on the post.
“Our post players have to control the glass.We need them to solidy the center position,” Korn said. “You can’t run if you don’t rebound. We need to have 10 to 15 rebounds every night from those guys combined. Offensively, they’re not going to score 25 points apiece, but if we can walk away with double digit points from the center spot, we’ll be in good shape.”
One possible option to step in and provide a spark from the perimeter is 6-2 junior guard Reno Jones.
“Reno has worked hard and is knocking down shots in practice,” Korn said.
Other members of the 15-player team are senior guards Coty DeClue, junior guards Spencer Crumbaugh, Josh Bozada and Tyler Hinson and junior forward Harley Love.
St. Clair no longer will play in the Park Hills Central Tournament.
Instead, the Bulldogs will open the season at the Borgia Turkey Tournament. They also compete in tournaments at Washington and Union.
The Bulldogs are seeded eighth for the Borgia Tournament, opening Nov. 21 against top-seeded McCluer North.
“Early in the season, I want us to compete. I think we can make a run later in the season,” Korn said. “There’s going to be some growing pains, even with the amount of seniors we have. If the kids buy into what we’re doing, I think we’ll get better. Once everything clicks, we could be pretty good. I think we can compete with anyone if we play our game. If we don’t play our game, we can lose to anyone. Opening the season against McCluer North isn’t an easy road, but we’re excited about it.”
St. Clair, picked the finish fourth in the Four Rivers Conference, has been assigned to Class 4 District 9 with Borgia, Union, Pacific, Sullivan and Owensville.