With a 51-42 loss to Manitowoc Roncalli in the 2015 Division 3 Regional Finals, the Wrightstown Boys Basketball team saw a couple of things come to an end. First and foremost, the playing career at Wrightstown for Jacob Gilson, the only senior starter last season. Also, it marked the end of the Olympian Conference area, as the conference was dissolved and new conferences took its place.
Gone are the rivalries with schools like Brillion and Roncalli, but the brand new North Eastern Conference will renew classic rivalries with the likes of Denmark, Luxemburg-Casco and Freedom.
“Our new conference will be much more competitive in the bottom half of the league for sure so each night we are going to have to play really well to compete at a high level,” Wrightstown head coach Cory Haese said. “We will miss the epic battles with Roncalli, Brillion, and Valders but new teams like Freedom, Lux-Casco, Denmark, and Little Chute will end up being great rivalries and highly challenging opponents. It will be very interesting going to all new gyms with more miles in a bus but yet exciting with the freshness of the challenge.”
Heading into the new season and new conference, head coach Cory Haese will be guiding a senior laden team, led by his son and leading scorer from last season Zac Haese. The younger Haese and his 15.8 points per game will be joined on the floor by Stephen De Cramer (9.0 pig), Nate Kola (6.5 ppg) and Austin DeCleene (6.9 ppg) as returning starters. All seniors, they will be complimented by seniors Nathan Beining, Theo Opichka, and Justin Waters. Coach Haese will also have the services of Nik Sandona, who spent the 2014-2015 season injured but is ready to return.
“We also have 4 underclassman on this year’s team and our seniors are doing a great job helping and leading by example,” Haese said. “They are showing them all the hard work each night that needs to take place in order for us to be successful.”
With the number of seniors on this season’s squad, obviously one of the strengths of the elder Haese’s team will be leadership. There won’t be a lot of situations the Tigers won’t be able to handle, a point that is not lost on Coach Haese.
“We are very fortunate to open up the new conference with 8 returning seniors from our team last year as we will be counting on their leadership and maturity to lead us this season, “Haese said. “A lot of those players earned very deserving football individual awards also so they already made their statements in the NEC and hope to continue that this winter.”
However, even with all the experience, if there is one place that the Tigers will have major concerns it will be in the front court, where there will be an obvious lack of size. Wrightstown boast just three players at least 6’4, and they are all front court talent.
“We really need to focus on our help-side defensive positioning as well as our toughness rebounding the basketball,” Haese said. “We have some size but it takes 5 guys working together on block outs and ball attacks to secure rebounds. We want to play fast and always be on the attack when we have the ball so we should be very exciting to follow this season.”
The Tigers open the 2015-2016 season at home against now former conference foe Chilton. Game time is 7:15pm. The schedule also includes competing the Sun Drop Classic at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay’s Kress Center over Christmas Break.