KIEL (NBC 26) — The Kiel boys basketball team has had their eyes set on the Eastern Wisconsin conference crown for as long as they can remember.
The last time the Raiders won it: 2001. Way before anyone on the team was born. A perfect 10-0 this season, the Raiders like their chances to end the drought.
“This is the kind of year that everything has been clicking,” said head coach Marcus Rumpff.
“A lot of us have had dreams of winning the conference and it hasn’t happened for a while,” senior forward Grant Manz. “We all just know as long as we work hard and do what we all need to do we can maybe achieve that goal.”
The Raiders are a tight-knit group. The seniors have been hitting the court with one another since 3rd grade.
“Having the same group of guys play together for so long, we just have a team chemistry that not many teams have,” said senior point guard Pierce Arenz. “It’s been special so far.”
2 of those upperclassmen lead the way. Arenz is one of them. He leads the team averaging 19 points and 4 assists.
“Pierce is the best leader I have known,” said senior forward Jack Heckmann. “I have played with him since 3rd grade. He’s always been like that. To see him transform from 3rd grade to now, it’s been crazy.”
“He’s incredible,” said Rumpff. “He’s got the best motor I’ve ever seen of any kid. He just does not get tired. He’s been our leader for 4 years now.. It’s been quite a ride he’s taken us on.”
Arenz already is the school’s all-time leader in steals and assists. He’ll soon be the all-time leading scorer as well. He’s been around the program his whole life. His dad, Jamie, now an assistant coach, was the head coach of the program when he was little.
“I was a ball boy back when I was in kindergarten all the way to 6th grade with my dad coaching and just seeing all the special players and making special connections with them and now I get to break their records, it’s just something that not many people can say. I’m lucky I can say I can do that.”
The other leader is big man Grant Manz, who averages a double-double, 17 points, and 13 boards. He’s on pace to be the first player in school history to ever have 1,000 points and 1,000 rebounds for their career.
“Grant’s super unique,” Rumpff said. “As far as rebounding goes, it might be the best skill we’ve ever had at Kiel High School. He’s already our school record-holder for rebounds. He’s incredible. He just keeps adding to his skill set.”
The players attribute a lot of their success to their head coach. Marcus Rumpff is in his 6th year at the helm of the program. He graduated from Kiel in 2007.
“He relates to us really well and I think we relate back to him really well,” said Heckman. “He’s a great coach and pushes us to be our best.”
The team has their eyes on the conference crown, but first, they have to get past Brillion, the reigning conference and Division 3 state champs. The winner of Friday night’s game sits alone at the top conference.
“We’re excited to see where we’re at. We’ve played some good teams earlier. It’s a big one Friday.” Rumpff said.