Out to win: 2016-2017 boys basketball season preview
By Paul Lecker
A positive outlook: Marshfield seniors Hinson, Michaelis, Posteluk return with wealth of experience
MARSHFIELD — The Marshfield boys basketball team ended last season on a sour note, losing on a last-second shot in overtime in a home WIAA regional semifinal, but prior to that had been playing some of its best basketball of the year.
The Tigers won six games in a row prior to a loss in their regular-season finale. A big part in their success was point guard Alec Hinson, who will return for Marshfield this season after earning first-team all-Wisconsin Valley Conference honors.
Hinson, a senior and three-year starter, averaged 12.7 points per game a year ago for the Tigers, who finished 14-9 overall and 6-6 in the Wisconsin Valley Conference.
While the Tigers will have to replace another first-team all-conference performer Adam Fravert, who averaged 14.5 points a game as a senior last season, Marshfield will be able to rely on the experienced Hinson, who has proven to be one of the better 3-point shooters in the conference.
Seniors Grant Michaelis, who scored 8 points per game as a starting wing player a year ago, and Ethan Posteluk, who came off the bench last year to score 6.3 points a game, return for Marshfield.
Seniors Nick Stewart and Nathan McGrath are also back off last year’s roster after both saw some playing time off the bench.
A group of three juniors and three sophomores joins the team for second-year head coach Scott Scheuer.
Reed Miller, a 6-foot-4 sophomore, scored in double digits in the Tigers’ first two games of the season, and Seth Anderson, a 6-foot-4 junior, had a team-high 13 points in Marshfield’s recent win over Oshkosh West.
Juniors Adam Hauge and John Reigel, sophomores Brant Bohman and Tommy Olson, and freshman Isaac Meverden round out the varsity roster.
“We want to play hard, be efficient with the ball, and put pressure on teams offensively and defensively,” Scheuer said.
Marshfield will open its home schedule Tuesday, Dec. 6, against La Crosse Central and University of Wisconsin recruit Kobe King. Central reached the WIAA state tournament in Division 2 last year.
Back for more: Undefeated Cloverbelt East champion Columbus Catholic eyes title repeat
MARSHFIELD — The Marshfield Columbus Catholic boys basketball team went undefeated in the Cloverbelt Conference East Division a year ago, and it was the fourth time in the past seven seasons that the Dons have won outright or shared the conference championship.
With leading scorers Hunter Schultz and Tyler Fuerlinger back in the lineup, along with guard Nick Malovrh, the Dons have their eyes on repeating.
Fuerlinger, a first-team all-conference performer last year, and Schultz, a second-team all-Cloverbelt East pick, both averaged 18 points and six rebounds per game for the Dons. Both return for their third year as starters for a team that finished 21-4 overall and 16-0 in the Cloverbelt East and lost in a WIAA Division 5 regional final to Almond-Bancroft.
Malovrh averaged 10 points per game last year as a sophomore, senior Charles Payant returns after seeing limited playing time, and senior guard Ryan Dieringer is also back after not playing last season while battling cancer.
A pair of sophomores — Jarred Mandel and Ethan Meece — and junior Noah Hansen have found spots in the early-season rotation.
“We have a lot of depth at the guard position, even some sophomores that don’t get varsity minutes. We have a number that can handle the ball and score,” 12th-year head coach Joe Konieczny said. “It’s a very nice thing to have as a coach. If two or three guys aren’t shooting the ball well, you still have two or three guys that can.”
Juniors Peyton Nystrom, Matt Olson, Nick Hutchison, and Karak Bushman and sophomores Bryce Fuerlinger and Noah Taylor round out the Columbus roster.
Konieczny said the Dons have worked hard to make this season as special as last year.
“They put in a lot of time,” Konieczny said. “You see those guys knocking down shots (in games) are in here every day, sometimes twice a day (during the offseason). I tell them that you earn the shots that you get to take, and we have a lot of guys that earn the right to shoot outside and attack the rim. I couldn’t ask any more with our offseason work.”
A return to form: Auburndale hopes to get back to its winning ways
AUBURNDALE — The Auburndale boys basketball team suffered through a rare losing season in 2015-2016, but in the meantime, a number of players gained valuable experience that should have the Apaches back on the upswing this year.
Five players, including three of the team’s top scorers from a year ago, return for Auburndale, which went 9-13 overall and 3-9 in the Marawood Conference South Division last season.
Head coach Chad Weinfurter has four seniors back, including his son Caleb Weinfurter, who led the team in scoring last year at 11.4 points per game and was a second-team all-Marawood South selection.
Luke Olsen (8 points per game), Collin Hawkins (4.8 points, 5.3 rebounds per game), and Logan Willfahrt return as well for their senior seasons. Sophomore Colton Wright is also back in the starting lineup after scoring 8.3 points and grabbing four rebounds a game after being elevated to varsity for the second half of last year.
“We expect to compete for a conference title,” coach Chad Weinfurter said. “We have a lot of experience back, and our newcomers played well this summer. We should be a solid shooting team. Our defense and rebounding will be keys to our success.”
Juniors Cason Schmutzer, Cameron Ertl, Colten Yeske, and Cale Jacoby and freshman Cooper Weinfurter will also be looking to contribute for the Apaches.
“We should be fairly deep and versatile,” Chad Weinfurter said. “The competition for playing time will be fierce because we have a lot of kids who put in time in the offseason. Competition makes us all better.”
Big shoes to fill: Spencer looks to replace a talented graduating class
SPENCER — The turnover of a roster in all high school sports is natural, but what the Spencer boys basketball team has to go through this season is very different.
The Rockets have to replace a trio of three-year starters and four seniors in all from a team that finished 15-9 overall and 10-6 in the Cloverbelt Conference East Division a year ago, tying for fourth place.
Gone are starters Bobby Pilz, the second all-time leading scorer in program history and a first-team all-conference performer the past two seasons; second-team all-Cloverbelt East forward Calvin Lenz; and honorable mention choice Ryan Busse. Guard Jonny Tomke also graduated.
Junior Jack Bezlyk returns to the starting lineup after averaging 10.5 points and 8 rebounds per game a year ago. Junior guard Aaron Pankratz and senior guard Noah Zastrow are also back for the Rockets and will take on increased roles with the loss of the four graduated players.
Junior Jacob Miller saw some varsity time last year and will return along with a number of newcomers. Juniors Mateo King, Lukas Ellefson, and Colin Nieman and sophomore Nate Karau will compete for playing time along with Austin Bacon, Josh Rudolph, and Vladimir Rivera.
“We don’t return a lot of players from last year, so we are going to have to work hard and improve every day,” Spencer coach Randy Reckner said. “Our focus will have to be limiting the amount of mistakes we make offensively and defensively. It’s been great seeing the excitement and willingness to get better every day.”
Tigers on the rise: With solid all-around roster, Stratford anticipates improvement
STRATFORD — The Stratford boys basketball team will look to move up the Marawood Conference South Division standings this season as it returns five players and welcomes a group of underclassmen that have already proven to be formidable additions.
The Tigers finished 13-11 last year and 6-6 in the Marawood South. Despite losing three all-conference performers to graduation, Stratford does return seniors Cole Hoffman (5.8 points per game) and Jacob Danen (5 ppg) and junior Brenden Fecker (7.5 ppg) back to the lineup.
A pair of senior reserves, Lucas Heidmann and Dylan Paschel, are also back and joins eight underclassmen that will comprise the Tigers’ roster this season.
Freshman Vaughn Breit, a 6-foot-4 forward, scored 37 points combined in Stratford’s first two games this season as it opened the year 1-1.
Sophomore Paul Huther has also taken on a big role right away, scoring 17 points in the team’s season-opening win against Colby.
Juniors Trent Heckel and Andrew Bargender and sophomores Lance Heidmann, Okley Wrench, Brandan Ackley, and Eli Drexler will also vie for playing time.
“We will be very young and inexperienced this season,” Stratford coach Curt Schmidt said. “We will have a solid shooting team. We will have good chemistry and also have some height to rebound well. I am excited about coaching this team.”
Paul Lecker is publisher of MarshfieldAreaSports.com, a contributor to Hub City Times Sports. You can reach him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.