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By Amber Hayden
GLENWOOD CITY — For the tradition-rich Glenwood City boys’ basketball program and its fans, the past decade has left them parched for a championship of any kind.
The Blue and White have earned 15 conference titles (most of which have come in the Dunn-St. Croix), a dozen regional crowns and four sectional championships and corresponding trips to the state tournament with a state title coming in 2001 and a runner-up trophy in 1989.
But since the 2006 season, the last time Glenwood City’s boys made a clean sweep of the conference, regional and sectional championships, the trophy case has been bare.
Last season, however, a sense of hope returned to the Hilltoppers boys’ basketball program as Glenwood City finished second in the Dunn-St. Croix for the first time since the 2006-07 season when it went 14-4 and 17-5 and was the D-SC runner-up to Elmwood/Plum City.
A year ago, Glenwood City finished 8-6 in conference behind the 14-0 Durand Panthers and were an even 12-12 overall which included a 60-23 second-round regional loss to eventual state qualifier Clear Lake in the WIAA Division 4 tournament.
Hilltopper head coach Tristan Kittilson, entering his sixth season as the Toppers coach and sporting a record of 48-72, hopes the Toppers’ fortunates are on the up swing and a return to hardwood prominence is on the horizon after just falling short of the squad’s goal of a conference title last season.
But Kittilson and the Toppers lost experience and toughness in the six players who graduated this past May. Gone are Riley Schutz, Pete Hill, Quinn Taylor, Owen Wagner, Kyle Meyers and Jake Nelson – Schutz was the biggest loss to the team, said Kittilson.
“He (Schutz) did everything for us, leading the conference in scoring, rebounding, and assists,” stated Kittilson.
Schutz was a first-team, all-conference selection, a WBCA all-star and finished his career with 1,021 points, scoring 433 of those points in his final season. Averaging 18 points per game last season, Schutz was a force on the boards, pulling down a team-leading 290 rebounds including 192 on the defensive end. He was also tops in assists with 80 and added 31 steals.
The Hilltoppers return three seniors and one sophomore for the 2018-19 season and all bring with them talent and quite a bit of varsity experience, Kittilson explained.
“We are going to be very athletic, but we still lack depth and height,” Hilltopper head coach Kittilson explained.
Hadin DeSmith earned a second-team, all-conference honor and averaged 11.5 points per game, making 100 field goals and 25 triples to tie with classmate Dillon Hierlmeier for the most in 2017-18. DeSmith also had 78 rebounds against opponents and led with 48 steals.
Seniors Dillon Hierlmeier and Tanner Davis also return for the Hilltoppers for the 2018-19 season.
Hierlmeier averaged 9.7 ppg as well as 54 assists, 36 steals and 11 blocks and, as noted above, tied for the lead in made three-pointers.
Davis will look to add to his 141 rebounds a year ago and his seven points per game average after hit 60 two-points and 21 threes.
In his limited varsity time, sophomore Brandyn Hallquist had five treys, eight rebounds and seven steals for Glenwood City.
It is Kittilson’s belief that the teams to keep an eye on this year will be Colfax and Spring Valley as they are both talented and balanced teams.
The Hilltoppers will open their season with a pair of home games against Grantsburg next Tuesday, November 27 followed by Prescott on Friday, November 30. The next day, Glenwood City will then play at the Target Center against Siren on Saturday, December 1. Glenwood City’s conference play will start December 6 with an away game at the Mondovi Buffaloes.
Seniors: Dillon Hierlmeier, Tanner Davis, and Hadin DeSmith.
Juniors: Cole Logghe, Dan Loring, Ethan Hanson, Jordan Klatt, Cas Grant, and Tom Rosenow.
Sophomores: Bryce Drill, Nick Hill, PJ Watson, Brandyn Hallquist, and Gavin Janson.
Freshmen: Brady McCarthy, Mitchell Bliese, Owen Swenby, Justin Moe, Collin LaValley, Brenden Booth, Bryce Wickman, Marcis DeSmith, Austin Nelson, and Owen Nerby.