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by Joel DeWitt
GLENWOOD CITY — For the Hilltopper boys’ basketball team the more things change, the more they remain the same. Out is Tristan Kittilson, who helmed Glenwood City for the past eight seasons but left for a teaching position in the Colfax School District. In is Patrick Olson, the former boys’ head coach for three years ending with the conclusion of the 2009-10 season.
While Coach Olson may be familiar with the program and its players, gone due to graduation from last year’s squad, that finished 5-17, are Brandyn Hallquist, Gavin Janson, Will Eggert, and Henry Wallin; with Hallquist and Janson being regular starters.
With those departed seniors, also goes a lot of offensive production. Hallquist led the team in scoring at 15 points per game and paced the Hilltoppers in rebounds with seven rebounds per game. It could be Hallquist’s steady hand that will be missed the most, as he shot a team leading 72% from behind the free throw line.
Fellow senior Janson was second on the team in scoring, averaging a little less the nine points per game. However, it may be his range from the three-point line that the Hilltoppers will miss as he led the team with 38 makes from behind the arc.
But, all is not lost for the Hilltoppers as they return eight players that saw action last year and bring experience to the team. They include Elek Anderson, Mitchell Bliese, Max Janson, Brady McCarthy, Justin Moe, Drew Olson, Owen Swenby, and Bryce Wickman.
Among the returning players, Olson may be the most seasoned. He was tied for second in scoring (with Gavin Janson), and was also second on the team in rebounds with 65 on the year. Bliese, Max Janson, and Moe will bring some experience as outside shooters.
Glenwood City will be looking to improve their record, as they have won only 13 games over the past three seasons (8-14 in 2018-19, 0-22 in 2019-20, and 5-17 in 2020-21).
When asked about the style of play he is looking for, hustle would be a primary goal for the team. “We will play a fast-paced brand of basketball that is centered around hard work and defense”, coach Olson exclaimed.
Also, Olson is not just concerned about the physical aspect of his team’s performance, he is also looking for a new mental mindset.
“As a program, GC Basketball is far more than diagrams and techniques. Basketball and life itself are similar in that each demands a personal commitment to excellence for success,” commented Olson.
He continued, “Success cannot be an occasional or sometimes thing, it is a habit.”
Olson also indicated, “Success requires the right psychological and emotional attitudes. Everyone cannot be successful all the time, but everyone can make that effort and the commitment to excellence.”
Helping Olson to achieve that purpose will be Nathan Hoffman and Hadin DeSmith. Hoffman will be charged with leading the junior varsity while DeSmith has C-team duties.
Glenwood City opened its 2021-22 season November 30th with a contest against Grantsburg at home, the game was not complete in time for this edition. Their next game will be when they open conference play on December 7th as they host Colfax.
Seniors: Mitchell Bliese, Brendan Booth, Marcis DeSmith, Brady McCarthy, Justin Moe, Drew Olson, Owen Swenby, and Bryce Wickman
Juniors: Cody Hansen, Elek Anderson, Nick Hierlmeier, Max Janson, Brady Klatt, Anthony Nelson, and Jayden Quinn
Sophomores: Steven Booth, Morgen Eggert, Zach Hill, Riley Krueger, Jared Hager, Jackson Halbach, Noah Plahn, and Elijah Millermon
Freshmen: Ilan Anderson, Tyler Harrington, Esdyn Swenby, Cole Wakeling, and Brett Peterson