After finishing 14-2 last year for a second place finish in the Dunn-St. Croix Conference and 21-3 overall, the Elk Mound boy’s basketball team will need to replace seven players lost through graduation, including two who led the team in four major categories if they hope to contend for a conference championship this year.
Andrew Strom was a four year player for coach Chris Hahn and averaged 14.6 points a game last year and was a first team All Conference pick in his junior and senior year. Marcus Mauer, a three year varsity player, departs after averaging 13.9 points a game and was a first team All Conference pick as a senior and second team his junior year. These two also finished 1-2 in rebounds, assists and steals for the Mounders. Also gone are starting guard Kyle Holzwarth, Matt Bridges, Austin DeLong, Matt Hastreiter and Skyler Hubbard.
But Hahn, who begins his fifth year leading the Mounders, looks for four seniors, all of them with varsity experience, to lead the team this year. Dakota Tarnow will be a three year starter for the team and will be relied on for his experience. Nick Heit, one of the teams most active defensive players as a junior who found a keen shooting eye halfway through the season also returns as well as post player Hunter Dicus, a starter last year and one of the best post defenders in the conference, according to Hahn. And Ryan Bridges who mostly came off the bench as a junior, is also a post player and is one of the quickest players on the team.
Hahn also looks for a talented junior class to add a lot of depth to each position throughout the season. That includes Ben Holzwarth, Logan Strom, Adam Gottschalk, Travis Nelson, Dexter Curry, Austin Hanson, Hunter Kohls and James Wolf.
“I don’t know what to expect from this team in terms of wins and losses, but I know our team strengths this year are our ability to pass the ball and play unselfishly,” Hahn said. “We have kids that really know how to play the game and I expect us to have a lot of kids scoring in each game. Other teams won’t be able to focus in on just one or two players this year. Our goals are to compete hard in every game and to continue to improve as the season goes on. We want to put ourselves in position to compete with the conference favorites, which I believe will be Colfax, Elmwood and Mondovi. If we play hard on defense, rebound the ball and play together, we’ll have a chance every game. We are very excited to get the season started,” he concluded.
He won’t have to wait very long as the Mounders start their season Tuesday, Nov. 13 at home against Eleva-Strum, then begin conference play at Boyceville Nov. 15.
Assistant coaches for the team are Dave Lew, Dennis Arneson, John Linzmeier and Tim Heit.