If you’re a current subscriber, log in below. If you would like to subscribe, please click the subscribe tab above.
Username and Password Help
Please enter your email and we will send your username and password to you.
by Marlys Kruger
ELK MOUND — After finishing 20-6 overall a year ago and 14-0 in Dunn-St. Croix Conference play, the Elk Mound boys’ basketball team will be gunning for another conference title as well as advancing through the regional and sectional meets this season.
The Mounders lost just two starters for the team that lost a regional final game to Gale-Ettrick-Trempealeau but they were pretty solid players for the team.
Gone are starting point guard Ryan Bartig who was incredibly important to the team’s success and took a lot of pressure off the team, according to head coach Chris Hahn. Aiden Bartholomew started all year for the team and was a solid role player.
The Mounders will have plenty of firepower back however, starting with the D-SC Conference Player of the Year, senior Sam Wenzel. Bringing a 13 points per game (ppg) average and 6.5 rebounds per game (rpg) average, Wenzel is one of the best post players in the area and is a consistent scoring threat and post presence, according to Hahn.
Four-year varsity player Kaden Russo returns with a 13.2 ppg scoring average, a 4.4 rpg average and 2.1 assists per game (apg) average. Russo was a first team, all-conference pick his freshman and sophomore years and was second team as a junior. He has already scored over 1,000 points in his career and will be an important offensive threat this year. Hahn expects him to be able to score at all three levels this year and utilize his three years of varsity experience to lead the team.
Other letter winners expected to help out are seniors Grandt Mueller and Brady Amble. Mueller played some great basketball at the end of the season and is very athletic and will be expected to rebound, defend and score inside and out. Amble was the backup point guard to Bartig and should be ready to step into a bigger role this season.
Junior letter winners include Cale Knutson and Logan Jerome. Knutson was a second team, all-conference selection and averaged 10.1 ppg, 3.3 rpg and 2.3 apg after playing through many injuries. He had surgery in the off season and has been recently cleared to play and looks to have a strong junior campaign. Jerome was a key reserve and will likely be stepping into a starting role for the Mounders this season. He should make big strides in his game this year and looks to be a consistent defender, scorer and rebounder.
Other varsity players looking to help the team include Zane Brice, Lucas Johnson, Caleb Beskow, Parker Dutzle, Brooks Burcaw and Aiden Schindler.
Coach Hahn begins his tenth season leading the Mounders and posts a 151-66 record. He believes his team strengths are the significant amount of varsity experience coming back. He also has three guys that will play heavy minutes for the team that stand 6’ 5” and another that is 6’ 3”. The coach hopes his team will be able to score consistently in the paint.
The Mounders will have to establish their point guard position and how they will finish games. Taking care of the basketball and being able to defend for 36 minutes are questions he will need answers to early in the season. Hahn also worries how his team will respond after winning the conference title last year and balancing their past success with future aspirations.
Goals for the team are to repeat as the conference champions, followed by winning a regional championship. Hahn believes if they can do those things, they would be excited to play in sectionals and have an opportunity to end their season in Madison. He hopes to out rebound their opponents each game, limit second-chance points for teams, and win the turnover battle each night.
Hahn looks for Spring Valley, Durand and Boyceville to be top competition in the conference this year. Spring Valley has a strong group of returning players with significant varsity experience and they had a great summer. They worked very hard and have one of the best players in the league in Cade Stasiek and they shoot the ball very well. Durand has some excellent size and will cause people problems in the paint. Ethan Hurlburt and Dane Bates are two of the best players in the league and they also have a few tall and strong players that will be very physical. Boyceville returns nearly their entire roster and they gave the Mounders their biggest scare last year in their second game, according to Hahn. They have a lot of varsity experience and this is their year to compete for the conference title.
Seniors: Brady Amble, Caleb Beskow, Zane Brice, Lucas Johnson, Grandt Mueller, Kaden Russo, and Sam Wenzel
Juniors: Brooks Burcaw, Beau Borgwardt, Parker Dutzle, Sam Hemenway, Londyn Jenson, Logan Jerome, Cale Knutson, Jace Peterson, Aiden Schindler, and Landon Kasakaitas
Sophomores: Jack Buchholtz, Sam Heath, Perry Jenson, Mason Mohr, Kaden Moyer, Brody Niven, Victor Noller, Lucas Svee, Peyton Vieth, Teegan Wright, and Dalton Banazak
Freshmen: Zack Brantner, Wyatt Clauson, Blake Niska, Logan Osborne, Gavin Dean, Easton Chisholm, Timmy Fleming, Brennan Loiselle, Dru Schiszik, Dylan Plets, and Landon Lipscomb