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By Amber Hayden
BOYCEVILLE — The Boyceville boys’ basketball squad opens its 2018-19 season next Monday under new head coach Austin Donahue who expressed his excitement for the challenge and the opportunity.
“This is my first year as a head coach at the varsity level,” said Donahue, a Clayton native, who at 24 years of age, is the second youngest head basketball coach in the state.
Donahue replaces Ben Luer who resigned at the conclusion of last season. The 2017-18 hardwood campaign saw the Bulldog boys finish 6-16 overall and just 3-11 in the Dunn-St. Croix. In the WIAA Division 4 tournament, Boyceville lost in the first round to the Cumberland Beavers.
Boyceville lost five players to graduation last spring – Luke Knutson, Bryce Boda, Cooper Boesl, Jayson Gonzales and Bryce Larson – two of which, Luke Knutson and Boda, were the Bulldogs’ main offensive threats averaging a combined 35 points per game.
Luke Knutson earned a first team all-conference selection during his senior year and averaged 18.6 points per game on 160 2-point field goals an d13 triples. Luke also grabbed a phenomenal 282 rebounds against his opponents and finished 43 assists and eight blocks.
Honorable mention all-conference player, Bryce Boda, netted 73 deuces and a team-leading 56 threes in averaging 16.1 points per game. Boda also stole the ball away 66 times, had 40 assists and collected 116 rebounds during the 2017-18 season.
“We are going to be a very young team with not a whole lot of experience coming back,” explained Donahue. “However, we do return two young men who did see the floor a majority of games last season under Ben Luer.”
Junior Logan Knutson returns to the court with potential on both ends of the floor. Knutson put in 25 three-point shots last season and averaged 2.4 rebounds per game and had 33 steals.
“He (Knutson) can score from all three levels on the offensive end. We expect him to really show what he can do this season in the D-SC,” stated the Bulldogs’ head coach.
High energy player Jaden Reisimer has improved during the offseason, explained Donahue, in order to improve in many areas of his game. Reisimer averaged 2.4 points per game last season and had 16 rebounds.
“He (Reisimer) can really shoot it once he gets going, he has mostly improved in his ability to facilitate and distribute the basketball,” Donahue stated.
Making the move up to varsity this season are players Brendan Sempf, Cade Klefstad and Connor Sempf.
The lack of experience at the varsity level and size may be the biggest weakness for the Bulldogs in the upcoming season, but they hope to counteract it with speed and a high ability to shoot the ball.
For coach Donahue and the Bulldog boys, the goal is to shoot the ball at a high percentage and limit the amount of turn-overs on offense, as for the defensive end the team will need to limit their opposition on the offensive glass and use their speed to add some takeaways “steals” and “forced turnovers” columns.
“I want to see improvement not only in the fundamentals, but in terms of developing individual skill sets that lead to roles on our team,” stated Donahue.
Donahue believes that Colfax and Durand will be the teams to beat, with Colfax being the team to take the conference with returning players. Spring Valley will also be in the title mix with its tough back court.
The Bulldogs, who played a scrimmage in Amery this past Monday (Nov. 19) will open their season next Monday, November 26 hosting a non-conference game against Pepin/Alma. Boyceville will then play three other out-of-conference opponents over the following seven days with a contest in Prairie Farm on Thursday, November 29, a battle with Unity at UW-Stout on Saturday, December 1 followed by a home game with Bruce on Monday, December 3. Dunn-St. Croix action will start on December 6 when Elk Mound plays in Boyceville.
Seniors: Bailey Danovsky, William Link, Brady Nye, Jaden Reisimer and Seth Wruck.
Juniors: Cade Klefstad, Logan Knutson, Hunter Nye and Brendan Sempf.
Sophomores: Brendan Hazelton, Connor Larson, Alex Ressler and Connor Sempf.
Freshmen: Isaac Bartz, Cody Harmon, Jon Klefstad, Dawson McRoberts, Collin Miller, Beck Wendland and Kole Wruck.