After losing a core group of seniors last season and knowing that the lack of varsity experience among this year’s group of young men will be playing a key role early on in the Norsemen’s season, Westby dropped its first two nonconference games to Richland Center and Aquinas.
Bob Constalie, Westby’s head boys basketball coach said it was a rough start to the season. We need to take better care of the ball on the offensive end of the floor and improve our screening and movement. On the defensive end we need to talk more and improve our rebounding.
“The determination and selflessness of the incoming varsity team should help them to be successful as the season progresses,” Constalie said.
Richland 57, Westby 42
The Norsemen never really found any rhythm against the Hornets when they traveled to Richland Center for its first game of the season. The Westby defense kept the game close when offensive shots failed to come together, but the Hornets left the Norsemen with its first stinger of the season handing Westby a 57-42 loss.
Sophomore Sam Strangstalien had a solid performance for Westby putting up 16 points, the only player to reach double digits. Joe Armbruster and Griffin Grass each added six points, while Ryan Daines and Alex Gluch each contributed five.
Westby shot only 30 percent from the field making 15 of its 50 attempts They also struggled at the free throw line going just 7 for 26. Both teams turned the ball over 14 times, a number that needs to go down moving forward into the regular season.
Aquinas 56, Westby 45
Westby dropped to 0-2 falling to Aquinas on Thursday, Nov. 30. Strangstalien scored 10 of his team-high 12 points in the second half for Westby. Griffin Grass and Davontae Spears hit double digits with 10 points each, but it wasn’t enough offensively for the Norsemen to pick up a win. Rounding out the Westby scoring: Ryan Daines 8, and Gluch 5.
Aquinas senior Conley Malone recorded 12 first-half points to push the Blugolds (3-0) to a 25-13 halftime lead, a gap the Norsemen never recovered from.
Malone stayed hot in the second half downing a pair of 3-pointers to lead all scorers with 20 points. Jacob Savoldelli followed with nine points, and Brandon Merfeld and Randy Jacobson added eight apiece for Aquinas.
Westby shot 40 percent overall and were 5 from 18 from the charity stripe against the Blugolds. The Norsemen turned the ball over 14 times and lacked picking up crucial rebounds.
“Our play was much improved in the second half of the Aquinas game so hopefully we can build off of that. We have lots of work to do in practice,” Constalie said.
Westby traveled to Sparta on Dec. 5, for a non-conference game. The Norsemen open up the Coulee Conference season traveling to Black River Falls on Friday, Dec. 8.
AQUINAS 56, WESTBY 45
Westby 13 32—45
Aquinas 25 31—56
WESTBY (0-2): Sam Strangstalien 12, Griffin Grass 10, Devontae Spears 10, Ryan Daines 8, Alex Gluch 5.
AQUINAS (3-0): Jacob Savoldelli 9, Conley Malone 20, Gavin Wetzel 2, Brandon Merfeld 8, Jared Everson 2, Jonathan Klauke 4, Andrew Skemp 3, Randy Jacobson 8.