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By Amber Hayden
ELK MOUND — After falling short of a conference title during the 2018-19 season, Elk Mound will focus on the perimeter in the new season.
The Mounders went 10-14 overall and were 7-7 in the Dunn-St. Croix for a fourth-place finish. Elk Mound’s 2018-19 season ended in Prescott where the Mounders fell short on a score of 58-74 in the WIAA Division 3 regional semifinal.
“We want to improve every day,” said head coach Michael Kessler. “That is the only goal we have.”
Kessler is entering his fourth year as the Mounders’ head coach and has a record of 37-34.
Elk Mound lost six players to graduation in May, Marcus Kinblom, Brett Lew, Colton Ward, Rian Flynn, Max Marquardt and Jake Mentzel, all of whom saw significant playing time for the Mounders.
Kinblom, the only member of the Mounder men to earn a second team all-conference honors, was a dominate force at center scoring 64 of his 89 free throws and had a .489 field goal percentage in his 23 games played. His height, 6’ 4”, also played a huge factor on defense for Elk Mound as 107 of Kinblom’s 155 rebounds came on the defensive end, he also had 28 steals and seven blocks.
Guard/forward Brett Lew made his way around the court in his three years of varsity minutes, putting up a total of 351 points in 51 games played, he had a high percentage of shots that hit the basket from the free throw line as he hit 82 of his 134 attempts for a .612 for all three years.
Rian Flynn was tough from outside the arc as he went up 135 times, sinking 40 of them, he also had 22 steals for the Mounders.
Jake Mentzel and Colton Ward were also lost to graduation. Mentzel went 22 of 79 from the three-point area and had a .278 average while Ward was 22 of 67 from the inside for a .328 average.
However, Elk Mound does return four seniors and two juniors to the team in Blaze Todd, Cole Steinhorst, Chase Rhude, Cade Hanson, Nate Lew and Ryan Bohl.
Juniors Nate Lew and Ryan Bohl will work the guard position for the Mounders. Lew finished the 2018-19 season with a .654 free-throw percentage after hitting 34 of 52 and Bohl was 10 for 10 from the line along with 35 field goals.
Chase Rhude will return as a guard for Elk Mound after seeing time in only nine games in the 2018-19 season and earning only three points. He also had two rebounds.
Senior Cade Hanson will be tough on the defensive side of the court as he earned 33 steals and three blocks. Hanson also hit 12 of 25 free throws last season.
Blaze Todd and Cole Steinhorst will return to forward positions after earning varsity minutes a season ago where Todd sank 21 of 46 field goals and Steinhorst went four-of-five from the line.
“These guys all saw minutes in competitive action last year, and we will rely on this experience on both ends of the floor,” Kessler explained.
Kessler has seen potential in a few upcoming players James Javanovich, Kyle DeLing, Ben Heath, Michael Jenson and Ethan Levra.
“We lack tremendous size and interior play will be a weakness,” coach Kessler stated.
Elk Mound will keep their focus on Spring Valley, Durand, Mondovi, and Colfax in the 2019-20 season with Colfax seeking another Dunn-St. Croix Conference title.
Elk Mound opened their season on the road in Arcadia on Tuesday, November 26, and won’t return to the floor until December 2 at St. Croix Central. The Mounder boys’ first home game is slated for December 5 against Prescott with the first Dunn-St. Croix contest set for December 12 against the rival Vikings in Colfax.
Seniors: Kyle Deling, Blaze Todd, Chase Rhude, Cole Steinhorst, Cade Hanson, and James Javanovich.
Juniors: Michael Jenson, Ryan Bohl, Ethan Levra, Ben Heath, Nate Lew, Antonio Meyer, Antonio Meyer, Mitchel Ruppelt, Jack Gabert, and Jackson Severson.
Sophomores: Brex Todd, Ethan Johnson, Carson Steinhorst, Schleiden Eldridge, Terry Mercer, Will King, and Cody Mack.
Freshmen: Ryan Bartig, Aidan Bartholomew, Jerome Delikowski, AJ Miller, Nathan Svee, Jackson Gehweiler, Tobey Westcott, Josh Livingston, Diesel Brenden, and Evan Webster.