High school boys’ basketball season officially tips off across the Badger State on Tuesday, Nov. 26, and all of the teams begin the year with a clean slate.
The senior-laden Chetek-Weyerhaeuser boys’ basketball team is hoping to rebound this year after an underwhelming season in 2018–19. With many skilled players back for 2019–20, the Bulldogs are hoping to contend for the Heart O’North title this year.
“Well, before you can win, you’ve got to keep from losing; and I’m not talking about wins and losses here, I’m talking mental toughness. Last year, we took too many punches without a response, and sometimes, we just let things happen and were okay with it. This year, we need to be the instigators in regards to defending and executing on offense,” explained C-W head coach Hans Olson, who is entering his fourth year at the helm for C-W. “We continue to get better at playing off each other on both ends of the floor. In order to be an improved team, we need to get 1 percent better every day.”
Despite a mediocre season last year, the team’s expectations are still high this season for a team that returns six letter winners—seniors Kyle Bilodeau, Carter Hanson, Dakota Herrmann, Eliott Paetzold, Sammy Grotberg and Broc Haas.
Last year, the Bulldogs tied for sixth in the Heart O’North with a 3-11 conference record and posted a 3-18 overall record. The Bulldogs are 22-45 in three seasons under the direction of Olson.
Joining Olson on the coaching staff this year once again is Jay Dachel, the junior varsity coach, and Tyler Florczak returns as the C team coach. There are a total of 32 players out for the high school basketball program this season.
Olson noted that the coaching staff is focused on improvement and competitiveness each day, hoping that will fuel the Bulldogs throughout the season.
“Competition is a good thing, especially in practice, and we need to compete hard to bring out our best. If someone doesn’t, someone else will gladly appreciate an opportunity,” Olson said. “We’ve got to keep checking our gauges. The energy and execution RPMs need to be full throttle at every practice and for 36 minutes every game night.”
Joining the six letter winners on the varsity roster to start the season are juniors Joseph Jensen, Josh Becker and Tyler Razim, along with sophomores Ashton and Carter Kummet—although Olson stated he will suit up 10–12 players for each varsity game as they search for the best varsity rotation.
Bilodeau, who was a second-team all-conference selection as a sophomore and a junior last season, will once again be a major focal point for C-W. Bilodeau, a 6-foot-6-inch senior, provides an impactful inside presence on both ends of the court. He led the ‘Dogs in scoring on the team in scoring last year with 14.7 points per game (15.1 points per game in conference games). He also was the team’s leading rebounder at 9.2 rebounds per game and led HON in rebounding at 9.8 boards per game. Hanson and Herrmann will also be heavily relied on, with both having ample varsity experience.
Hanson was second on the team in scoring last season, at 9.9 points per game, and also averaged three rebounds per game. Herrmann added 7.8 points per game last year.
Coming off the bench last season, Haas averaged 3.9 points per game and was one of the team’s three-point specialists.
“Kyle is going to be the focus of every defensive game plan we face. He only cares about the team’s success. We need to knock down our open shots. Our senior guards all have all demonstrated the ability to extend the defense by knocking down shots,” Olson stated. “We need to win the battles within the game—free throws, offensive boards and turnovers. We’ll be a tough out if we shoot more free throws, get extra possessions and don’t have empty possessions.”
The Bulldogs open the season at home when they host Boyceville on Nov. 26. They will begin conference play after that when they travel to Ladysmith on Tuesday, Dec. 3.