Kee boys basketball team battles through the ups and downs of 3-20 season

The 2014-2015 Kee boys basketball team faced its share of adversity in playing to a 3-20 overall season record this winter, but ultimately left its own mark in recording this season’s final win. After playing to a 2-19 regular season, a mark that included a 1-14 record in Upper Iowa Conference play, the Hawks banded together at the most ideal moment of the season to record the first postseason tournament win for the program since the 2011 season.
“All three of our victories were special in their own way,” Kee boys basketball coach Pat Wagner said. “In our season opener with Central Elkader, we played very well and played the game the way we want it played, with good pace and solid defense. Beating a rival like De Soto, WI was important, and putting things together for an opening-round win was fun. All three wins made the players feel good about what we were doing, but I think the biggest accomplishments of the season were persevering through challenging times when injuries, illnesses and ineligibilities plagued our team. We kept coming to work on a daily basis with the proper attitude and, even though the win-loss record was not great, we saw a lot of individual improvement and, consequently, improvement as a unit. I hope this attitude can be carried over to next year. This group really did practice well, and if the younger people can bring that into next season, then our program has a chance to grow.”
Coach Wagner further explained that not one of this season’s team members was able to play in all 23 games on this year’s schedule, that inconsistency in the starting line-up playing a significant role in the final season results. Along with that inconsistency, however, came opportunities to contribute, especially for the younger players on this season’s roster that included two freshmen and six sophomores in addition to just three seniors and two juniors.
“We had several key players out for extended periods of time; we did not have one varsity player who appeared in all 23 games,” Coach Wagner said. “We had to have some younger guys step in and play varsity basketball, and they accepted the challenge. This should bode well for the future. I hope they realize what it takes to compete in varsity boys basketball in our conference. I think we made progress in this area but we still need to get it through our heads that being out for basketball is not optional - you are either committed or you aren’t, and if you are not, get out of the way of the guys who are. Success is a full-time, not a part-time, venture.”
The senior trio that paced Kee’s upperclassmen leadership effort also did likewise with many of this season’s statistical categories. Dylon Peterson has been a multi-year contributor to the Kee boys basketball program and led the Hawks in scoring for the second consecutive season, with 384 points, while also posting additional team-high numbers this season with 151 rebounds, 26 made three-pointers, 37 steals and 47 assists, a help number he shared with sophomore Danny Brennan.
Fellow senior Andrew Weber swatted a team-high 27 blocked shots and finished second with 114 rebounds, with senior Marquise Phillips finishing third on this season’s team with 129 points, 102 rebounds and 21 steals. In addition to sharing team-high assist honors, Brennan posted the team’s second highest totals of 218 points, 22 three-point buckets and 27 steals, with fellow sophomore Clay Olson dishing out 20 assists for Kee’s second-highest total there.
“Obviously, we are going to miss Dylon Peterson, he is a competitive young man who led us in scoring and rebounding,” Coach Wagner said. “He was a regular on the varsity for three years, and he brought a great competitive nature to the gym. Andrew Weber made huge strides throughout the winter. By the end of the season he was a force inside for us, most notably on the defensive end. Marquise Phillips brought athleticism to the team. All three will need to be replaced, but we have the people to build on the good things those three did for the program.”
In compiling his share of the team-leading 47 assists this season, Brennan opened the season tying a school record for assists in a game with 10 in the Hawks’ 58-54 season-opening win over Central Elkader. He joined Weber in earning All-Conference Honorable Mention this season, with Peterson being named to the Upper Iowa Conference All-Conference Second Team.
With just two juniors listed on this season’s roster as prospective returning senior leaders next season, the Hawks look to field a fairly young overall team again next season. That youth, however, gained some valuable varsity experience this season, but Coach Wagner knows that a huge determining factor in how next season will turn out takes place between the end of this current season and the beginning of the next.
“The off-season will be big for us,” Coach Wagner said. “Do we want to continue to be mediocre or do we aspire to be better? We need to do skill development, we need to be in the weight room and we need to play the game. It is that simple - are we willing to commit? If we don’t, we are accepting things as they are and that is not alright.  Our conference is competitive. Night in and night out we play schools that take basketball seriously. My hope is that those in our program who understand that can take positive leadership and help our program take the next step. We were competitive for about three quarters in a lot of our games, a good off-season could possibly keep us in those games that got away from us.”