With more than 80 percent of its scoring and 75 percent of its rebounding gone from the previous year, the St. Francis boys basketball team struggled through the mother of all rebuilding seasons in 2006-07.
The Mariners began the season on a six-game losing streak before beating Butler County, Kentucky at the Jefferson City Great Eight Classic on Dec. 29. St. Francis' only other win came with just four games left on the schedule - a 44-41 home win over Thomas More on Feb. 16 - and the Mariners finished just 2-19 (1-15 Woodland Conference).
"It was a rebuilding year," St. Francis coach John Kloppenburg said. "The positives I thought were, our juniors, 12 or 13 games into the year, started to get it and get better at things. They were realizing what had to be done. They had to be quicker than they were used to."
Ronrico Ragsdale, a 6-foot-4-inch senior guard, led the Mariners in most statistical categories, including points (12.0) and rebounds (5.1) per game. He was the Mariners' one true scorer and was often the focal point of double- and triple-teams.
"The kids looked to him an awful lot to get us through tough spots when we got in those situations," Kloppenburg said. "He'll be missed not only from an offensive standpoint, but he was a leader for us defensively."
Other seniors included Jeremy Hamilton, Jimmy Hamilton, Keith Chmielewski and Luke Nyman. Jimmy Hamilton was a three-year starting point guard and "the toughest guy in our program," according to Kloppenburg.
Next season, a number of juniors are expected to return, a group led by Caleb Hargreaves and Dale Gilewski, as well as a pair of sophomores: Cory Knapp and Nate Studer.
"Our two sophomores really stepped up and played well for sophomores," Kloppenburg said. "This experience for hem will be invaluable for the whole program, not just them as individuals.
"We have seven kids coming back with quite a bit of varsity experience. With that said, that can be all great, but if they don't want to work and improve on things during the summer time, we're back to square one come November."
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