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Regular Season Rundown: Recap of the Neenah Rockets 2017-’18 Basketball Season

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This graphic was featured on Twitter to motivate fans to attend the game.

This graphic was featured on Twitter to motivate fans to attend the game.

This graphic was featured on Twitter to motivate fans to attend the game.

Grant Matheny and Collin Parker, Staff Writers

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The blueprints for the Neenah Rocket’s 2017-’18 basketball season were not as vivid as in years past.

The foundation and persona of Neenah basketball had been lost to graduation, as last years top scorers, Joe Jung, Peyton Mericle, and Jordan Mascal were no longer on the roster. So, head coach Lee Rabas was left with a blank canvas, and at first, the colors on his palette were scarce.

Hoping to add a confidence-building win to the Rockets’ resume, Neenah hosted the sub, subpar Hortonville Polar Bears in their first conference game. But, to the surprise of many, Hortonville edged out the Rockets 75-72, lowering the already mediocre expectations.

At the risk of bashing the Rockets too hard, they did face a handful of setbacks in the form of injuries that plagued their season. A nagging wrist injury sidelined senior guard, Rayce Prosser all last year; this lingered on throughout this season. His outstanding play on the turf this year did not help his cause either, as recurring blows to his arm never allowed the bone to fully recover (not to mention the injury was to his shooting arm). Fellow senior, Matthew Pavletich, was diagnosed with a concussion amid their toughest stretch of games. Within the final seconds of Neenah’s first meeting with Fond Du Lac, Pavletich took a hard shot to the head on a loose ball. But most recently, freshman phenom Grant Flory, who fluctuated between starting big man and the sixth man role, has been enduring a fractured hand.

Although it is unlikely, the Neenah organization hopes to see him suit up for the playoffs. Also, Tyrese Taylor, the only true center on Neenah’s roster tore his Meniscus before the first practice. Taylor has yet to suit up for an official game this season and will be sidelined for the foreseeable future.

In accord with the saying, the stars shine brightest in the dark, and this has been the case for Neenah during the tail end of their season. In the wake of the plethora of injuries to key players, juniors Ethan Parker and Sam Dietrich have established themselves as bench players who deserve big minutes. In their last two regular-season games at Oshkosh North and Appleton East, Dietrich knocked down three triples that hit nothing but nylon. Ethan Parker has also proven that he is capable of shooting to rock, Parker hit two big 3-point shots while showing his athleticism in the post with three emphatic blocks.

Overall, though the Rockets had a down year, they did pull off some impressive upsets, most notably a 71-68 victory at Oshkosh West. With these impressive wins, these young Rockets have certainly built up some hype for the next year’s season.

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Regular Season Rundown: Recap of the Neenah Rockets 2017-’18 Basketball Season