Entering his 30th year in coaching, Bob Constalie, Westby’s head boys basketball coach knows that the Norsemen lost a core group of seniors last season and the lack of varsity experience among this year’s group of young men is bound to play into the team’s highs and lows this season.
Constalie said the Norsemen lost strong leadership, experience and size last season, but the determination and selflessness of the incoming varsity team should help them to be successful.
“Communication between players is a key component when it comes to executing successful plays,” Constalie said.
Returning to the court from last year’s varsity roster include juniors, Ryan Daines, Alex Gluch and Sam Strangstalien. This trio is used to working together as a team after just completing a successful football season. Joining them on the varsity team are: Hunter Ward, Alec Meurer, Griffin Grass, Devonte Spears, Dante Valle, Brandon Kent, Brendan Buros, Mason Quellhorst, Joe Armbruster, Devin Nelson and Garrett Dunnum.
Seniors who graduated in 2016 include: Jesse Solberg whose ability to drain the ball from long range and glide smoothly inside for more points will be missed. Solberg averaged 21 points a game last season, was named First Team All-Conference, and played in the WBCA All-Star Game. Dylan Weninger and Erik Luebke played key roles as well averaging 9.9 and 9.3 points a game respectively; while Kyle Anderson and Jess Bishop held their own inside.
“We graduated a great senior class and we lack experience at the varsity level, but all our kids will play hard and compete hard every night,” Constalie said.
Westby has a long-standing tradition of team chemistry. Together the Norsemen will need to develop more consistent perimeter shooting and the underclassmen will need to step into leadership roles.
“Leadership on the floor is very important to a team’s success,” Constalie said.
Constalie will rely heavily on his coaching staff of Mark Luebke, Vernon Daines and Dan Dwyer to instill defensive intensity, ball security and shot selection within the players. Constalie said those key components will make the difference in a winning or losing season for the Norsemen, who finished 17-6 overall and 8-4 in the Coulee Conference last season.
Westby travels 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.
Constalie said the Norsemen will face strong opposition from BRF, Luther and G-E-T.