November 23, 2010 | 08:37 AM
Last weekend, the state football champions were crowned in Madison.
That can only mean one thing — the countdown to March Madness is upon us.
For the Badger, Big Foot, Williams Bay and Faith Christian boys basketball squads, that countdown begins Tuesday, Nov. 30, with the first action of the season. While Badger is bigger than the other three and they all play different competition, the four will all share a common characteristic this season. They all have to replace either top scorers or senior leaders that were a huge part of their success last season.
And nobody has been hit harder than the Badgers, Chiefs and Bulldogs. All three squads must replace multiple starters and tons of experience.
The two squads affected most by graduation will be Badger and Big Foot. Both teams must replace their entire starting lineups. That means players without much varsity experience will be expected to step up in a very short amount of time and score and rebound. It won't be an easy task for either squad.
First, let's take a look at Badger. Last year the starting five of Justin Bowers, Preston Dailey, Laramie Wieseman, Clint Andresen and Nate Meinen accounted for the top five scorers on the team. Bowers and Dailey were first-team all-conference and all-county selections. The dynamic duo combined for 35.7 points per game. Add another 10 from Wieseman, and the Badgers will have a significant scoring void to fill.
The local team will rely heavily on leading returning scorer Brendan Gruenwald-Schmitz and fellow seniors Trevor York, Bobby Lamparek and Will Swanson. Also, seniors Mike McBride and Matric Kotula, both of whom took a year off from basketball last year, will provide much-needed depth and leadership. Badger coach Tom Dummer sees plenty of scoring potential from Lamparek, who he considers a great athlete. It will be interesting to see who puts up points in this offense.
The Chiefs have a dilemma similar to Badger's. They have to find a way to replace an entire starting five of talented seniors that included Mike Walker, Steve Dowden, Alec McGreevy, Nate Nagel and Marcus Greben. Much like Badger, these five were the scoring stars for Big Foot last year. Couple the new faces with a new coach, football defensive coordinator Adam Bakken, and the Chiefs will have to figure out team chemistry in a hurry.
Seniors Mike Kunes and Jordan Gottman are the only players who saw any significant minutes on varsity last season. The two, along with Kyle Collins and Will Haeberlin, make for only four seniors. The majority of the team will consist of juniors and sophomores, so it could be a bit of a rebuilding year for the Chiefs. However, Big Foot is the Rock Valley South defending champion, and the Chiefs will not relinquish the crown without a fight.
The Bay didn't fare much better with graduation. They lost four starters, including all-Walworth County first-teamer Jack Slovick, who averaged 19.5 points per game last season. Also, graduated starters Will Gerson, Matt Dreger and Brian Lemke were three of the squad's top five scorers. This year, the Bulldogs will have only one senior, Chad Pharris, a solid outside shooter who is recovering from a knee injury.
The team will lean on junior powerhouse Lawrence Crement for the bulk of the scoring. The 6-foot-2 forward averaged 10.1 points per game a year ago and was a monster on the boards. Coach Troy Nottestad believes Crement can be the man to replace Slovick.
"Lawrence has a drive to be good," Nottestad said. "He wants to get better and make his teammates better."
However, Nottestad said his bunch will be inexperienced. He said his the guys must think about improving every day before worrying about repeating as Trailways South champions.
And last but not least are the Faith Christian Eagles. While they have to replace starting point guard and team leader Andrew Mulder, the Eagles might be in the best position in the area in regards to experience. Back are three starters, including junior center Ben Sass, last year's leading scorer at 13.6 points per game. Also, twins Adam and Alex Montsma, sophomores who averaged more than seven points per game, are back and stronger than ever, according to head coach Brian Pollard.
"They will be ready," Pollard said about the twins this season. "They are both good scorers, and I'm expecting a lot from them this season."
Also, newcomers Joe Ingersoll and Jared Mulder, Andrew's little brother, should play integral roles for the Eagles. Faith will look to improve on its third-place conference finish last year in the Indian Trails. But despite talented returners, the Eagles, much like the rest of the area, could lack some in experience. Two senior starters are gone, and there are currently no seniors on the team. Andrew Mulder's game management and ball-handling abilities will be sorely missed.
Overall, the boys basketball season could be a bumpy ride for the area teams this year. A lack of seniors and experience could hurt each team's chance at a deep playoff run.
But, it's still early. These guys have only been practicing a week, and stars will surely emerge eventually. Every year, players step up when the game is on the line and make a name for themselves. This year for the area boys basketball squads, it could very likely be underclassmen playing beyond their years.