The Verona boys are poised for a strong season with three first-team all-conference seniors returning from last year’s squad that finished 19-9. The Wildcats lost just one player to graduation from that squad.
Those three first-team all-conference seniors are Caleb Hillhouse, Kolton Pinkly and Eddie Gutierrez. Hillhouse put up 18.5 points, 9 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 2 steals per game last season. It was the second consecutive season in which he led the Wildcats in scoring and rebounds. Pinkly was just behind him at 16.8 points, 5.1 rebounds. 2.5 assists and 1.8 steals per game. Gutierrez gives the Wildcats yet another dynamic player after he averaged 14.9 points, 5.1 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 4 steals per game as a junior. He led the team in steals, assists and 3-point field goals. All three players have eclipsed the 1,000-point barrier for their careers.
A solid, veteran group returns behind that group in seniors Anthony Martinez, Austin Valdez, Chris Werner and Jorge Lara. Junior Riley Carey and sophomores Jere Ruiz-Diaz and Dillin Shrum also are back after seeing varsity time last season.
Coach Brad Stewart has a strong group of underclassmen coming in as well with sophomore Junior Martinez and freshmen Jaiden Carrasquillo, Kelson Guenther, Duece Francisco, Colten Hillhouse and Seth Freiburger.
Carrasquillo will be an immediate impact player after averaging more than 31 points per game in junior high. He will likely step into the vacant fifth starting position.
All this returning talent has Verona expecting big things.
“We look to be more explosive on offense and continue to play great defense. With improved depth our plan is to increase our defensive pressure and our tempo on offense. The goal for this season is to become one of the teams that is remembered as one of the best teams to wear Verona uniforms,” Stewart said.
Verona opens the season on Nov. 20 at Walnut Grove.