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Ar-We-Va boys optimistic with six returning lettermen

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Rocket boys basketball 2021-22

Members of the Ar-We-Va boys basketball team in 2021-22 are, front row, left to right: Aiden Blackman, TJ Koch, Will Ragaller, JD Cone, Damon Ehlers, Blayne Smith, Harley Molina; back row: Kyelar Cleveland, Conner Kirsch, Cooper Kock, Emmett Neumann, Braeden Kirsch, Mason Burgart and Wade Ragaller.

The Ar-We-Va boys will enter the 2021-22 basketball season with six returning letterwinners, including four full-time starters from a Rocket squad a year ago that won eight of 19 games.

Ar-We-Va will again be under the direction of sixth-year head coach Matt Wilken, who will be joined on the bench by assistant coach Austin Stoelk.

The Rockets lost three players to graduation from last year’s club that also went 6-8 in the Rolling Valley Conference.

Among the graduation losses was Zach Schimmer, who led the Rockets in scoring (14.9 p/g) en route to earning first-team all-conference honors.

The Rockets will return a wealth of experience, though, including two of its top three scorers.

Returning starters are 6-0 senior guard Will Ragaller, 6-2 senior forward Cooper Kock, 6-4 senior forward Braeden Kirsch and 5-10 senior forward Damon Ehlers.

Ragaller and Kock were second and third, respectively, in scoring for Ar-We-Va a year ago.

Ragaller averaged 14.7 points and 6.4 rebounds per game a year ago, while leading the Rockets with 54 assists (2.8 p/g) and 43 steals (2.3 p/g) en route to earning second-team all-conference honors for the second straight season.

Ragaller also was second on the team a year ago with 22 three-point field goals.

Kock averaged 7.8 points and a team-high 10.7 boards per contest last winter, while leading the team with 17 shot blocks en route to earning honorable mention all-conference recognition.

Braeden Kirsch averaged 2.8 points and 3.8 boards per game a year ago. Ehlers pulled down 2.5 rebounds per game last winter.

The sixth returning letterman is 6-2 junior forward Kyelar Cleveland, who averaged 2.1 points and 3.3 boards per contest a year ago.

"Our strengths are that we finally have size and experience. We have some athletic guys that we need to use in transition," commented Wilken.

"I really like how athletic we are, especially our big guys. Our senior point guard in Ragaller is a bulldog, and the rest of our guys are working toward that level, too," he added.

Wilken said that the Rockets have to shoot better to have success.

"We need to shoot better than we have the last couple of years. That will be helped out by consistently taking better shots," remarked Wilken, whose club will open its regular season on Tuesday, November 30, against Glidden-Ralston at Glidden.

Besides those already mentioned, other seniors out are 6-2 guard Conner Kirsch and 6-2 post player Mason Burgart.

Filling out Ar-We-Va’s roster are sophomores Emmett Neumann (6-5 post player) and Harley Molina (5-10 guard); and freshmen Wade Ragaller (5-11 guard), Blayne Smith (5-11 guard), T.J. Koch (5-11 forward), Aiden Blackman (5-10 guard) and Josh Cone (5-9 guard).

As far as the RVC race goes this year, Wilken feels that West Harrison will be the favorite.

"I expect West Harrison to be at the top again, but after that, it’s really a crapshoot. Coon Rapids-Bayard and Exira/Elk Horn-Kimballton are always tough and CAM, obviously, has a lot of athletes, so hopefully we come to compete and get our name up there, too," Wilken said.

Ar-We-Va Boys Basketball

2021-22 Schedule


30 - at Glidden-Ralston


3 - vs. CAM

7 - at Exira/Elk Horn-Kimballton

14 - vs. Woodbine

16 - vs. Westwood Sloan

17 - at Coon Rapids-Bayard

21 - vs. West Harrison


3 - vs. Storm Lake St. Mary’s

4 - at Paton-Churdan

6 - vs. Audubon

7 - vs. Boyer Valley

11 - vs. Glidden-Ralston

13 - at Logan-Magnolia

14 - vs. CAM

18 - vs. Exira/Elk Horn-Kimballton

24 - at Ridge View

25 - at Woodbine

28 - vs. Coon Rapids-Bayard


1 - at West Harrison

4 - vs. Paton-Churdan

7 - at Boyer Valley


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