Knights close to turning a corner?

The Irondale High School boys basketball team has suffered through back-to-back single-digit win-total seasons. This year's squad isn't guaranteeing it will be end that streak but it appears to be the most capable team in the last three years.

Irondale returns three players who averaged double digits in scoring a year ago. Two of them earned all-conference honors and the other was all-conference honorable mention.

"We feel we have a competitive team," said Irondale head coach Jon DeMars, who is entering his 19th season at the helm of the Knights. "We were very young last season and still are but we played several very good teams tough."

Uwana Etuk-Akpan, a six-foot-three senior, returns after leading the team in points (17.3) and rebounds (9.1) per game last year. Kevin Schramm, a six-foot-five senior, averaged 15.9 points and 5.2 rebounds per contest. Etuk-Akpan and Schramm were both all-conference last year and are within striking distance of 1,000 career points.

Also returning is six-foot-three junior Sean Sutherlin, who earned an all-conference honorable mention nod by averaging 10.4 points and 3.7 assists per game.

Sophomore Brendan White, senior Ryan Schicker and junior Sonam Paichang also contributed last season. New names to watch for this year include sophomore Daudi Simon and seniors Monico Real and Travis Cornell.

DeMars thinks the offense should work as long it takes care of the ball. Harder work on the defensive end is also a must.

"We are working to play more aggressively on defense," DeMars said. "We will need to improve on not turning the basketball over at such a high rate. We can score."

Irondale's first taste of game action comes Tuesday when Farmington pays a visit. The Knights then play three times next week: At home on Dec. 2 against Columbia Heights, at Elk River on Dec. 4 and at South St. Paul on Dec. 5.

Brian Meyers can be reached at or 651-748-7819. Follow him on Twitter @BMeyersNews.

2015-16 Irondale High School boys basketball schedule

Nov. 24    vs. Farmington    7 p.m.
Dec. 2    vs. Columbia Heights    7 p.m.
Dec. 4    at Elk River    7 p.m.
Dec. 5    at South St. Paul    3 p.m.
Dec. 8    vs. Centennial    7 p.m.
Dec. 10    vs. Maple Grove    7 p.m.
Dec. 12    at Winona    5 p.m.
Dec. 15    at Osseo    7 p.m.
Dec. 18    at Totino-Grace    7 p.m.
Dec. 22    at St. Louis Park    7 p.m.
Dec. 29    at Hastings tournament    TBA
Dec. 30    at Hastings tournament    TBA
Jan. 5    vs. Spring Lake Park    7 p.m.
Jan. 8    vs. Robbinsdale Armstrong    7 p.m.
Jan. 13    at Anoka     7 p.m.
Jan. 15    vs. Park Center    7 p.m.
Jan. 19    vs. Andover    7 p.m.
Jan. 22    at Spring Lake Park    7 p.m.
Jan. 26    vs. Blaine                7 p.m.
Jan. 29    vs. Osseo                7 p.m.
Feb. 2    vs. Totino-Grace            7 p.m.
Feb. 4    at Maple Grove            7 p.m.
Feb. 8    at Robbinsdale Armstrong    7 p.m.
Feb. 12    vs. Champlin Park            7 p.m.
Feb. 16    at Park Center            7 p.m.
Feb. 19    at Coon Rapids            7 p.m.


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