2021-22 Winter Preview: East Newton Boys Basketball

By Jordan Burton (For OzarksSportsZone.com)

Last year was a season to remember for East Newton Basketball.

The Patriots were state-ranked for the entire year in Class 4, finishing the season with a school-record 26 wins and making an Elite Eight run for the first time in program history. The district championship was the first since 2016, first 20-win season since 2015 and the Pats earned back-to-back Big 8 West championships.

“The run was a very fun thing especially in the midst of COVID and in a depressing time really, our team’s success gave our community excitement and helped everyone’s overall mood in the midst of the COVID era,” said East Newton head coach Kyle Fields. “There was great support from our community. We found a lot of fun and excitement for basketball and being around each other. Last year’s team had the opportunity of playing in the biggest crowd ever in our quarterfinal game. There were many great moments and they will be cherished forever.”

Fields – now entering his seventh season at East Newton – is responsible for the program’s only two district titles in recent years and is the program’s all-time leader in wins.

He’ll now try to continue what he’s built with what is largely a new cast. The Patriots return just two starters from last year’s group. Kelton Sorrell and Gabe Bergen – both seniors – will look to lead this year’s team.

Sorrell averaged 7.1 points as a junior, while the 6-foot-2 Bergen added 7.4 points and 4.2 rebounds. Both will see expanded roles offensively this season.

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“We expect a lot from our seniors,” said Fields. “Kelton and Gabe will carry us in many ways but for sure in their leadership. I really enjoy both of these players. They are tough hard-nosed winners. We are looking forward to this year.”

They’ll be joined by Robby McFarland, Marshall Renner, Garrett Downum, Kolt Walters, and several others are also in the mix for varsity minutes.

“They have had a good summer with us,” said Fields. “They all know what our expectations are, they are willing to put in the work and have a tremendous trust in each other.”

As is customary with teams undergoing roster turnover, establishing team roles and getting acclimated to the speed of the varsity level will be early adjustments for the Patriots. But although the pieces may look different, Fields believes the puzzle is still the same for East Newton.

“East Newton has to do a lot of the same that they have done for the last several years,” said Fields. “We have to make sure we don’t beat ourselves, and that we continue to improve and grow with one another. If we take it one day at a time we will have a great chance of being the team that we want to be at the end of the season.”

The Patriots will open the 2021-22 season on Nov. 23 at Clever. The home-opener will come on Dec. 7 against Southwest (Washburn).

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