The Shawano Hawks boys basketball team will have their work cut out for them this season. While they’re ready to improve on last year’s 7-7 Bay Conference record, they’ll have to replace the production from last season’s leading scorer and rebounder Zeke Gueths.
Gueths was the only Shawano player to average double-digit scoring with 17 points per game and added a team-high 6 rebounds a game. With the loss of a few key seniors, head coach Dave Ambrosius says it will be a collective effort to replace their production, but he’s excited to see his players embrace that role.
“You’re never going to truly replace them with one or two guys, it’s always going to have to be a team effort and everyone is going to have to step up,” said Ambrosius. “We have a lot of guys coming back though with some good varsity experience from last year, so obviously we’ll be looking for them to take that next step forward and accept that challenge.”
One of those players expected to help fill that void in production will be junior guard Cole Nelson. As a sophomore, he was second on the team, averaging 8 points per game and is also one of the best three-point shooters on the team. Nelson says this year’s team is very close-knit group that’s excited to work together.
“I’m excited, we’ve got a lot of potential this year, a lot of young guys coming up,” said Nelson about the season’s outlook. “We’re really a tight group. We’re like family. We just have to learn how to play together and play with each other.”
This year’s team will still be one of the younger in the Bay because they only have three seniors, but that doesn’t mean they won’t have varsity experience. There are a number of players returning that have logged valuable experience from last season and Coach Ambrosius says they’re hungry to prove themselves.
“I think we’ve got experience coming back,” said Ambrosius. “I think these kids are hungry and we’re ready to take that next step. Now, we’ve got a long way to go. We’ve got to get a lot better on both ends of the court before we can accomplish those goals, but these kids are ready for the challenge. They put in a good offseason of work. They’ve gotten a lot better and we’re just excited to see what we can be this year.”
For Shawano, it’s all about getting better each day, and while outside expectations aren’t very high, the coach Ambrosius’ team is focused on the little things in order to be successful late in the season.
“The biggest goal early in the year is to just teach them where to be, teach them what they’re supposed to be seeing, what their reads are, and how to think the game, so that once we get into February and hopefully March we don’t have to teach them, they trust what they see, they trust their reads, and that’s how you end up playing faster and more efficient basketball,” Ambrosius explained.
Shawano opens up their season Friday night in the Wausau Classic against Wausau West. The game can be heard at 7 p.m. on WTCH AM 960 and 96.1 FM.