BADGER NORTH CONFERENCE
Team: Conf., All
Mount Horeb: 14-0, 22-4
DeForest: 11-3, 19-6
Beaver Dam: 9-5, 16-8
Waunakee: 7-7, 15-10
Sauk Prairie: 6-8, 8-15
Reedsburg: 6-8, 13-12
Portage: 3-11, 5-18
Baraboo: 0-14, 1-22
Top WIAA tournament performances: Mount Horeb lost to Elkhorn, 60-58, in D2 sectional final; DeForest lost to Mount Horeb, 54-50 (OT), in D2 sectional semifinal; Waunakee lost to Madison La Follette, 65-52, in D1 sectional semifinal.
RETURNING ALL-CONFERENCE PLAYERS
First team: Will Fuhrman, sr., Reedsburg (unanimous).
Second team: Trey Schroeder, sr., DeForest.
Honorable mention: Nate Abel, jr., Beaver Dam; Owen Ziegler, sr., Mount Horeb; Carter Daniels, sr., Reedsburg.
1, Waunakee; 2, DeForest; 3, Reedsburg.
Coach: Tyler Fish, first year.
Returning starters (2): Max Koenig, 6-1, sr., G (4.1 ppg); Calvin Peterson, 6-2, sr., G (7.9 ppg)
Other returning letterwinners (5): Joe White Eagle, 6-2, sr., F/C (3.3 ppg in three games last year); Justin Philipp, 6-4, jr., F (4.2 ppg); Payton Steiner, 5-10, jr. G (1.2 ppg); Graham Langkamp, 5-10, sr., G (0.6 ppg); Owen Nachtigal, 5-10, jr., G (0.6 ppg).
Key fact: The Thunderbirds graduated three starters, including leading scorer Caden Blum, who averaged 10.3 points per game. Senior Joe White Eagle returns to the team after an ACL tear held him to three games last season.
The lowdown: Baraboo is saddled with a 29-game Badger North losing streak, dating to Feb. 17, 2017, but Fish expects to change things around at his alma mater. Senior guards Calvin Peterson and Max Koenig return to the starting lineup. Peterson is in his third varsity season and will be relied on to score after ranking second on the team last year (7.9 ppg). “He will be ready to score the basketball for us. He is ready for the moment,” Fish said. Koenig has worked on his jump shot in the offseason and “has also dedicated himself to the weight room, improving his strength and quickness,” Fish said. Senior Joe White Eagle returns from an ACL tear suffered three games into last season. Alec Schmelzer, a 6-6 senior, and Jake Schaefer, a 6-7 junior, decided against playing this year. But the Thunderbirds do have eight players at least 6-foot or taller, with all 14 players at least 5-foot-10.
Quotable: “Our seniors and this program have a lot of energy, enthusiasm, and are looking to help turn this program in the right direction. As a team, we think we are going to surprise some people. Our kids have worked hard and are ready to make it happen,” Fish said.
Beaver Dam Golden Beavers
Coach: Tim Ladron, 12th year (162-102).
Returning starters (2): Nate Abel, 6-1, jr., G (11.5 ppg, 3.1 rpg); Broden Boschert, 6-0, sr., G (7.3 ppg, 3.2 rpg).
Other returning letterwinners (7): Tyler Bunkoske, 5-10, so., G (2.8 ppg); Mason Ferron, 5-11, sr., F (2.4 ppg); Brady Helbing, 5-10, so., G (1.7 ppg); Alex Soto, 5-11, so., G (1.8 ppg); Colton Fakes, 6-2, so., F (1.0 ppg); Evan Sharkey, 5-10, so., G (0.7 ppg); Eli Wilke, 6-2, sr., F (0.6 ppg).
Key fact: The Golden Beavers graduated three of their top four scorers from a year ago, including All-Badger North second-team selection Cade Ferron.
The lowdown: After a third-place finish a year ago, Beaver Dam will rely on returning guards Nate Abel and Broden Boschert. The team is packed with sophomores, but some have a fair amount of varsity experience. A general lack of size and experience could spell a building year for the Golden Beavers.
Quotable: “Our ability to defend and rebound will say a lot about how we fare this year,” Ladron said. “Our guys are very coachable, great teammates and are hungry for success.”
Coach: Craig Weisbrod, 20th year (288-230)
Returning starters (1): Trey Schroeder, 6-1, sr., G (13.2 ppg, 4 apg).
Other returning letterwinners (7): Colby Harting, 6-5, sr., F (6.3 ppg, 5.1 rpg); Jahyl Bonds, 6-3. sr., W (5.0 ppg, 3.1 rpg); Max Weisbrod, 6-0, so., G (5.2 ppg, 3.4 apg); Adam White, 6-5, sr., C; Alex Elverkrog, 5-10, sr., G; Jack Creger, 6-1, sr., G; Dylan Haas, 6-3, sr., F.
Key fact: The Norskies delayed their season opener against Watertown so the team — which includes multiple players from the Norskies’ WIAA Division 3 state championship football team — can get in enough practice time.
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The lowdown: The Norskies finished second in the Badger North last year, going 19-6 overall. Schroeder, the quarterback of the football team, returns after averaging about 13 ppg last year. Top scorer Austin Westra (17.5 ppg) was lost to graduation. Elsewhere, a lack of varsity experience may leave the Norskies a year or so away from challenging for the top of the conference.
Mount Horeb Vikings
Coach: Todd Nesheim, 11th year (175-94).
Returning starters (1): Owen Ziegler, 6-1, sr., G (8.0 ppg, 3.0 rpg).
Other returning letterwinners (2): Ethan Post, 6-2, sr., F (2.4 ppg, 1.8 rpg); Carter Gilkes, 6-1, sr., G (1.3 ppg, 0.8 rpg).
Key fact: The Vikings lost their four top scorers and rebounders from a year ago. The lost players’ production totals add up to 50.4 points and 19.5 rebounds per game.
The lowdown: After winning the Badger North conference title a year ago, Mount Horeb will open this season with multiple question marks. Only three players return, and the team so far lacks an offensive identity. Another blow was the loss of Ethan Post to a football injury.
Quotable: “We will have no obvious team strength heading into the season,” Nesheim said.
Coach: Darrin Berger, first year.
Returning starters (2): Matthew Miles, 6-3, sr., F (6.0 ppg); Kendall Thompson, 6-0, sr., G (3.5 ppg).
Other returning letterwinners (5): Delnato Sheppard Jr., jr., 5-9, sr., G (3.9 ppg); Isaac Paul, 6-0, so., G (3.8 ppg); Colton Brandsma, 6-0, sr., G (3.0 ppg); Logan Breunig, 6-3, sr., F (3.0 ppg); Bennett Bass, 6-1, jr., F (2.0 ppg); Reis Breunig, 6-3, jr. F.
Key fact: Lost to graduation is Eli Considine, who led the Badger North in scoring last year (24.8 ppg). He’s now playing at Wheaton (Illinois) College.
The lowdown: Berger returns to his alma mater after a four-year stint as Baraboo’s head coach. He faces quite a challenge with a team that graduated much of its scoring and experience. Brett Walker could be a surprise after sitting out his junior season due to a torn anterior cruciate ligament suffered the previous football season. He averaged 6.2 points per game as a sophomore.
Quotable: “We have the athleticism and depth to be competitive in the conference,” Berger said. “(We) need to defend well, play unselfishly and take care of the ball to reach out potential.”
Coach: Josh Rupnow, sixth year (49-70).
Returning starters (4): Will Fuhrmann, 6-1, sr., PG (16.8 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 4.4 apg, 2.4 spg); Carter Daniels, 6-2, sr., G/F (10.5 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 1.8 apg); Max Tully, 6-2, sr., G (10.3 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 2,4 apg); Danny Kast, 6-0, sr., G (3.0 ppg, 1.5 rpg, 1.8 apg).
Other returning letterwinners (8): Zach Bestor, 5-10, jr., G (10.5 ppg, 2.8 rpg); Zach Hale, 5-11, sr., G (2.2 ppg 1.5 rpg); Taylor Langer, 6-2, sr., G; Hunter Dempsey, 6-5, jr, F; Alex Woodruff, 6-3, jr., F; Keith Cutrin, 6-1, jr., G; Brett Crary, 6-3, jr., G/F; Bryant Yanke, 6-0 so., G; Jack Campbell, 6-3, so., G.
Key fact: This is the second time a Fuhrmann/Tully combination will be the prime movers for the Beavers. Two years ago, Ben Fuhrmann and Tyson Tully were the team’s top two players; this year, Will Fuhrmann and Max Tully are in the spotlight.
The lowdown: After finishing 13-12 last year, the Beavers lost only two starters and will look to their Fuhrmann/Tully combination. Will Fuhrmann is closing in on the 1,000-point mark this season. “We expect to compete for the first Badger North Conference championship in school history this year, and figure to be one of the top teams in the Badger North,” Rupnow said.
Quotable: “Returning our top four scorers from last year, plus some additional talent to fill games, we expect to have a strong team,” Rupnow said. “This is one of the most talented senior classes we have had, and we have high expectations after a solid playoff run last season.”
Sauk Prairie Eagles
Coach: Sean McGann, 2nd year, (8-15).
Returning starters (3): Brandt Wilson, 6-6, jr., G/F ( 7 ppg, 4.1 rpg); Trevor Spray, 6-7, sr., G/F (11.9 ppg, 4.8 rpg); Ben German, 5-10, sr., G ( 3.9 ppg, 2.2 rpg).
Other returning letterwinners (5): Aaron Frey, 5-8, sr., G; Tyler Uselman, 5-9, jr., G (3.7 ppg); Isaac Breunig, 6-1, jr., G/F (2.3 ppg); Parker Breunig, 6-1, sr., G (3 ppg); Garrett Hertzfeldt, 6-1, sr., F (3 ppg).
Key fact: The Eagles lost Spencer Breunig and Jack Henderson, last season’s top scorers and rebounders, to graduation.
The lowdown: Brandt Wilson, Trevor Spray, and Ben German will be the players McGann looks for as year Eagles’ season progresses. “We have some really nice guards who can play at a very good level in our conference,” McGann said. The Eagles finished fifth in conference play last year. Returning these three players and adding new talent could move the Eagles to the front of the pack in the Badger North.
Quotable: “(The) biggest piece we lack at this point in time is toughness,” McGann said. “We need to develop the toughness that it takes to win in a very difficult conference.
Coach: Dana MacKenzie, 17th year (260-125)
Returning starters (3): Caden Nelson, 6-2, jr., F/G (7.5 ppg); Andrew Keller, 6-5, so., F (4.8 ppg); Casey Fischer, 5-10, jr., G (5.5 ppg).
Other returning letterwinners (3): Jacob May, 6-0, sr., G (3.1 ppg); Caden Hough, 6-5, sr., G; Oleg Novinski, 5-10, sr., G.
Key fact: Multiple players on the roster were part of Waunakee’s football team, which earned WIAA Division 2 runner-up honors.
The lowdown: With the graduation of key Will Knatz (who scored 12 points per game last year), the Warriors may need some time working out who will step up to fill the scoring void this season. However, the Warriors return three key players from last year's team. The Warriors are coachable and they are a “hungry” team, MacKenzie said.