Orion boys will be competitive

by Mindy Carls correspondent

“It is an understatement to suggest that this upcoming season is like none other,” Orion boys basketball coach Alex Johnson said.

With COVID-19 restrictions loosened, the season that was supposed to begin in November will finally begin on Tuesday, Feb. 9, with the Orion varsity hosting Riverdale at 7 p.m. The sophomore game begins at 5:30 p.m.

“I am very excited for this group,” Johnson said. “We have six returners with a hard-working group of juniors to add to this mix. We have a nice balance of post and guard play. Our expectations remain the same in this COVID-shortened season, which is to go out and compete.”

Returning varsity letter winners, all seniors, are guards Cade Weiss, Will Lawson, Abram Anderson and Adam Burgert and forwards Will Dunlap and Josh Spranger.

Johnson is projecting all of the seniors as starters.

Juniors moving up to varsity are forwards Chance Stropes and Luke Johnson and guards Jared Mohr and Ty Comer.

Stropes is a potential starter, Johnson said.

“Josh Spranger has finally made his way back on the court and has been a strong presence for us in practice,” the coach said. “He missed nearly half of the season his sophomore year as he battled mono, but returned in time to start for the stretch run of a conference and regional championship.

“He missed his entire junior year with a knee injury and almost missed his senior year due to COVID,” Johnson said. “I hope with all my heart that the next five weeks go well for this group, but especially Josh.”

Last year, the Chargers were 21-10 overall and finished as regional runners-up. They were 7-3 for second place in the Three Rivers Conference. Johnson’s career record improved to 85-66.

Orion has 12 games on the 2021 schedule, with a contest with Monmouth-Roseville still to be set.

Most of them are conference games, except for matches with Mercer County and Galva.

“Rockridge is the team to beat” in the Three Rivers, Johnson said. “They won conference last year and have many key players back. We have battled them tough over the years and look forward to doing the same this year. Overall, the conference should be competitive with many teams returning key players from a year ago.”

Below is the varsity schedule as of Monday, Feb. 2. Sophomore games begin an hour and a half earlier. A game with Monmouth-Roseville still needed to be scheduled.

• 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 9, vs. Riverdale in Orion.

• 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 12, at Riverdale.

• 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 16, at Rockridge.

• 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 19, vs. Rockridge in Orion.

• 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 23, vs. Sherrard in Orion.

• 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 26, at Sherrard.

• 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 2, vs. Fulton in Orion.

• 7 p.m. Friday, March 5, at Fulton.

• 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 9, at Morrison.

• 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 10, vs. Mercer County in Orion.

• 7 p.m. Friday, March 12, vs. Morrison in Orion.

• 3:30 p.m. Saturday, March 20, at Galva.