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Toppers need to replace several starters from last year’s team

GLENWOOD CITY — After finishing with an overall record of 14-11 a year ago and 7-7 in Dunn St. Croix Conference play for a third place tie, the Glenwood City Hilltoppers boys’ basketball team will need to find replacements for seven players lost via graduation, four who were starters.

Gone are Todd Petersen, Jake Hierlmeier and Marcus Kadinger who started since their freshmen year for the Toppers, along with another starter Kip Wallace, and Tyler Woodruff, Bill Norenberg and Brandon Barstad. Petersen and Hierlmeier were First team All Conference selections last year while Kadinger was a Second Team pick. Hierlmeier also played in the WBCA All Star game and went to Madison to compete in the 3 point shoot out at the Kohl Center during the WIAA state tournament. Petersen, Hierlmeier, Wallace and Kadinger accounted for 1,048 of the team’s total 1,225 points last year.

“I believe we had a conference championship level team last year but we got off to a slow start and just couldn’t get it done,” said third year head coach Tristan Kittilson. “We beat the two co-conference champions (Colfax and Elmwood-Plum City) late in the season by double digits when we were playing our best basketball. But we had a winning season and after winning our first round regional game, we went on to play Regis which was a goal and challenge my players wanted.”

Three seniors, all returning letter winners, are expected to be major contributors to the team this year with their experience and skill set including Nick Schone who averaged 5 ppg a year ago plus Nathan Mrdutt and Joel Ormson who both averaged 2.0 ppg. In addition, sophomore Riley Schutz should see a lot of playing time along with junior Allen Croes and freshman Dillon Hierlmeier.

“Schutz has really developed nicely and should play a lot of minutes,” Kittilson said. “Croes, with his size and strength on the inside will be huge and Hierlmeier will also see a lot of varsity time and should make a big contribution. I think we have a lot of talent and have several high motor guys that are willing to work hard and compete night in and night out. But with only one starter returning and not much extensive varsity experience, we will have some growing pains for sure. Our main goal is to just get better every day through hard work and habits. If we can do that, we believe everything else will take care of itself,” he added.

Kittilson expects Elk Mound to contend for the conference title with a ton of players back from last year while Mondovi is well coached and they bring back some strong players. And Colfax, as well as new team to the conference Durand will be very competitive as well.

As far as the new format where teams will play two 18 minute halves, Kittilson thinks it is a great change.

“I think it is good for the high school game, players and coaches,” he said. “Making the game longer with fewer stoppages will create for better flow and more players to get in the game. There will be new challenges for coaches and teams,” he concluded.

Filling out the high school roster are seniors Matthew Wink, Nathan Hill and Kenny Vang, juniors Jeff Schone, Nic Jensen and Will Rosenow, sophomores Quinn Taylor, Jake Nelson, Davon Lindau, Kyle Meyers, Peter Hill, Owen Wagner and Keyshawn Vang along with freshmen Caleb Petersen, Jacob Obermueller, Gavin Samp, Tanner Davis, Hadin DeSmith and Will Owen.

The Toppers open the season Nov. 30 at home against Clayton. Kittilson is assisted by David Popko this year.