2015-2016 boys basketball season preview
By Paul Lecker
Coming off the heels of its first-ever Cloverbelt Conference East Division championship, the Spencer boys basketball team returns three seniors for the upcoming season, including conference Player of the Year Bobby Pilz.
Pilz averaged 17 points and five rebounds per game last season for the Rockets, who finished 18-6 overall and 14-2 in the Cloverbelt East. It was the program’s first conference title since ending the 2006-07 season in a three-way tie for the top spot in the Marawood Conference South Division and its first outright championship since winning the Marawood in 1963-64.
Gone are starters Mitch Susa, Nate Mercier, and reserve Miles Weber, but seniors Ryan Busse (5 points, 5 rebounds per game) and Calvin Lenz (6 points, 4 rebounds) will be back along with reserves Dakota Andreae and Jonny Tomke, who are also both seniors.
“We lost a great group of kids from last year, but we bring back a good amount of experience,” Spencer coach Randy Reckner said. “Our senior leadership will be a great strength and will have to come into play as we have an inexperienced bench. Our success will depend on how fast we can come together as a team. With the new rule changes this year, our bench will have to play key roles.”
Coach: Randy Reckner, 13th year (127-135).
Last year’s record: 18-6, 14-2 Cloverbelt Conference East.
Last game: Lost to Auburndale 61-40 in WIAA Division 4 regional semifinal.
Returning players: Bobby Pilz, 6-0, sr., guard; Ryan Busse, 6-2, sr., forward; Calvin Lenz, 6-0, sr., forward; Jonny Tomke, 5-11, sr., guard; Dakota Andreae, 6-3, sr., forward.
Top newcomers: Noah Zastrow, 5-10, jr., guard; Aaron Pankratz, 5-11, so., guard; Jack Bezlyk, 6-0, so., forward; Jacob Miller, 6-0, so., forward; Mateo King, 5-11, so., guard; Lucas Ellefson, 5-10, so., guard.
What the coach had to say: “Our conference will be very balanced this year with four to five teams possibly battling for the championship,” Reckner said.
Coach: Chad Weinfurter.
Last year’s record: 19-8, 7-5 Marawood Conference South.
Last game: Lost to Mineral Point 66-59 in the WIAA Division 4 state tournament semifinals.
Returning players: Dylan Peplinski, 6-1, sr., forward; Caleb Weinfurter, 5-9, jr., guard.
Top newcomers: Luke Olsen, 6-0, jr., guard; Collin Hawkins, 6-0, jr., forward; Nicholas Steele, 5-9, sr., guard; Logan Willfahrt, 5-7, jr., guard; Christian Firnstahl, 6-2, sr., forward; Logan Brown, 6-3, sr., forward; Noah Kunz, 6-1, sr., forward.
What the coach had to say: “We lost most of our experience,” Weinfurter said. “Our lack of experience will have to be overcome with discipline and fundamentals. The game is so much faster at the varsity level, and the players will have to adjust mentally and physically. We expect to compete at a high level each and every night.”
Columbus Catholic Dons
Coach: Joe Konieczny, 11th year (179-68).
Last year’s record: 15-9, 13-3 Cloverbelt Conference East.
Last game: Lost to Pittsville 47-36 in a WIAA Division 5 regional semifinal.
Returning players: Evan Nikolai, sr., forward (12 ppg, 7 rpg); Hunter Schultz, jr., guard (13 ppg, 5 rpg); Tyler Fuerlinger, jr., guard (10 ppg, 6 rpg); Mathias Gouin, sr., guard; Billy Young, sr., forward; Brett Loveland, sr., center; Ryan Dieringer, jr., guard.
Top newcomers: Charles Payant, jr., guard; Nick Malovhr, so., guard.
What the coach had to say: “We have some good returning players, so we expect to be competitive in the Eastern Cloverbelt Conference,” Konieczny said. “There are four or five teams in our league that could win it this year. There will be many close games. It should make for an exciting season.”
Coach: Scott Scheuer, first year.
Last year’s record: 8-17, 2-10 Wisconsin Valley Conference.
Last game: Lost to Superior 47-34 in a WIAA Division 1 sectional semifinal.
Returning players: Alec Hinson, 5-11, jr., guard; Adam Fravert, 6-8, sr., forward; Ethan Voss, 6-2, sr., forward; Tyson Slade, 6-1, sr., guard; Isaac Huettl, 6-5, sr., forward.
Top newcomers: Grant Michaelis, 6-3, jr., guard; Nick Stewart, 6-6, jr., forward; Nathan McGrath, 6-0, jr., guard; Ethan Posteluk, 6-0, jr., guard; Jon Hardinger, 6-4, sr., forward.
What the coach had to say: “We want to play hard, be efficient with the ball, and put pressure on teams offensively and defensively,” Scheuer said.
Coach: Curt Schmidt, 16th year (262-115).
Last year’s record: 14-9, 5-7 Marawood Conference South.
Last game: Lost to Edgar 41-27 in WIAA Division 4 regional quarterfinal.
Returning players: Derrick Schmidt, 6-1, sr., guard/forward; Nick Stoflet, 5-10, sr., guard; Ethan Nagel, 6-0, sr., guard; Drew Oertel, 5-11, sr., guard.
Top newcomers: Cole Hoffmann, 5-10, jr., guard; Tanner Weinfurtner, 6-4, jr., post; Jaren Fischer, 5-11, sr., post; Jacob Danen, 6-2, jr., post; Lucas Heidmann, 5-8, jr., guard; Dylan Gripentrog, 5-9, jr., guard; Brenden Fecker, 6-0, so., guard; Dylan Paschel, 5-9, jr., guard.
What the coach had to say: “We will be inexperienced,” Schmidt said. “We will be a little more guard heavy than years past. We will be able to shoot pretty decent. We will not have very much height.”