If one word had to be used to describe the 2017-18 Borgia boys basketball Knights, that would be it.
Dave Neier’s team has plenty of size as it ends the first week of practices.
“We have size all over,” Neier said. “Right now, we could start four guys 6-4 or 6-5.”
Borgia went 18-11 last season, winning the Class 4 District 6 Tournament before losing to Parkway Central in the sectional round.
Borgia could have tall reinforcements coming as well. Jacob Unnerstall was the only football player to come out for the squad.
“Jacob is one we really miss right now,” Neier said. “We might have more football players coming out once their season ends. Jacob could play a big part this season.”
Unnerstall, 6-4, is one of two players who missed last year due to injury. Oddly, both suffered knee injuries while playing quarterback for the football Knights. Spencer Hunter is back after missing 2016-17 as well.
Borgia has to replace Alex Movila, The Missourian All-Area player of the year, but has plenty of candidates for the spot. Overall, Borgia graduated four players, including Gus Kleekamp (All-Area second team), Sam Piontek (All-Area honorable mention) and defensive ace Michael Smith.
Hunter Mehler, a 6-3 senior guard, was an All-Area third-team selection last year, averaging 12.8 points, 3.2 rebounds and 1.3 assists per game last season. Mehler led the team in three-point shooting, but also showed the ability to slash to the net.
Junior Will Elbert, a 6-6 forward, grabbed a starting position late in the season and through the playoffs.
Eli Marquart, a 6-4 guard, is another three-point threat. He knocked down 27 from outside the arc last season after missing the early part of the year due to illness. Marquart averaged 4.4 points, 1.6 rebounds and 1.1 assists per game.
Dalton Shust, a 6-6 senior forward, is expected to step up. He averaged 1.8 points and 1.7 rebounds per game last season.
More height comes from Brendan Smith, a 6-6 junior who played three games at the end of last season.
Not every Borgia player is tall. Senior guard Michael Baylard is 5-10 and provides quickness and ballhandling. Senior Jason Peters is a 6-3 guard who is looking for additional playing time after seeing action in 14 games last year.
The guard position will be bolstered by 5-7 junior Trent Strubberg, 5-10 junior Ian Howell and 5-11 sophomore Alex Brinkmann.
Andrew Jensen, a 6-1 junior who made the postseason roster last year, also will look to fight for playing time.
“We’ll see how they fit together,” Neier said. “We will get them to play as a unit and hope we keep progressing.”
Borgia will return to the Francis Howell Jamboree again this year, where it will face the host, Hazelwood East and Ritenour. That takes place Tuesday, Nov. 14, starting at 5:30 p.m.
Borgia opens the season at home in the 65th Annual Borgia Pepsi Thanksgiving Tournament. The field is mostly the same as last year with McCluer North, Normandy, North Tech, Pacific, St. Louis Christian and Washington coming back. The St. Louis Blue Knights homeschool team is new.
Turkey Tournament games will be played Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday of Thanksgiving week.