Although the Black River Falls High School boys basketball team’s season ended earlier than hoped, the Tigers will remember the 2017-18 campaign for years to come.
The Tigers (18-6) season came to a halt March 3 after they met Gale-Ettrick-Trempealeau (18-6) for the third time this season. After splitting the two regular-season games, the Red Hawks handed Black River Falls 75-52 loss in a WIAA Division 3 regional final.
“We were unable to answer their long run in the second half,” said Tigers’ coach Dave Cowley. “They were extremely hot and had depth, where we (sometimes) lack numbers.”
In January when the two teams met for a second time, the Tigers posted a 65-60 win, which was crucial to their pursuit of a Coulee Conference title. Black River Falls captured its first Coulee Conference championship since 2009, edging G-E-T by one game. It ended a streak of eight straight Coulee titles by the Red Hawks.
“It (winning conference) was a realistic goal in the beginning of the season, but we knew we had to work hard to be able to achieve it with G-E-T being such a strong team,” Cowley said.
Senior guard Ethan Anderson, one of the area’s top all-around players, helped the Tigers maintain a strong force in the Coulee Conference. Anderson finished the season with an average of 27.6 points per game and chipped in with 20 in the team’s regional final.
Even though Anderson may be considered by many as the star of the team, Cowley said he as the consummate team player.
“He’s very humble and his goals are not individual,” Cowley said. “His ultimate goals were team accomplishments and he wanted to win the conference title. In my 25 years of coaching, I’ve never seen a kid that works as hard as he does.”
Although Cowley didn’t have the overall depth he hoped this season, he still had talented players that made the goal of winning the conference title a reality.
Sophomore Elliot Bird finished the season by averaging 12.8 points per game, while senior Bryce Seiber followed at 12.1. But, according to Cowley, there was another player on his team that surprised him.
“Jacob Woods was definitely a surprise to the conference,” Cowley said. “He quietly had good games and was able to defend tough players.”
The Tigers completed a season with many highs and a few lows. With an experienced team and a Coulee Conference title in tow, Cowley hopes this season will act as a precedent for the ones to come.
“I hope the underclassmen were able to witness, and got to see the excitement the boys brought to the community,” Cowley said. “They showed anything is possible if you put time and effort into it. This year was a good program builder. I think our last game at the fieldhouse had about 2,000 people watching. Who wouldn’t want to play in front of 2,000 people?”