The Westby High School boys basketball team will face a number of challenges this season, but longtime coach Bob Constalie believes he has some of the answers during what should be an interesting road ahead.
Constalie knows that some of those tests will come early in the season by taking on competitive teams, but he also believes his team is more prepared to handle them this year.
The Norsemen, a longtime power in the Coulee Conference, didn’t have the season they had hoped for last winter after winning just three games — one win was in league play — while recording 20 losses. The reasoning can be placed in multiple areas, but Constalie is remaining hopeful due to the fact he has a handful of experienced players returning.
“We’ll be getting tested pretty good because there’s some excellent competition,” Constalie said. “Last year we started on the road for so many of our games and we were young and had to go against a lot of good seniors. This year we’ve got a lot of home games early on, so hopefully that will help us get off to a better start.”
While the Norsemen were young last season, this time they are returning as a senior-heavy team. Westby returns seniors Sam Strangstalien, Ryan Daines, Alex Gluch, Griffin Grass and junior Joe Armbruster.
With considerable depth, the Norsemen could very well be led by not one key figure, but instead by all five. Along with having experience on the basketball court, Constalie is hoping that the success from the football team — which was a team led by Daines, a running back, and Gluch, the quarterback — will carry over to basketball.
“We’ve got a lot of senior leadership, which is always good and I think that some of their success from football will hopefully help us in basketball also,” Constalie said. “They’re all very focused and we’ve been shooting the ball well in practice — which doesn’t always carry over into games — but we’ve been shooting well and really competing.”
Constalie knows his team just shoot better from the field to be competitive, as the Norsemen were outscored by an average margin of 57.8 to 47.6 last season. Creating a successful offensive team can’t be done without upholding a strong defense, though, which is a primary focus in Westby, according to Constalie.
Building a strong defensive unit would allow Westby to work through offensive slumps, Constalie said. One way that is being done is by getting stronger, as in putting time in the weight room and maintaining a strong focus during each practice. The practices have also allowed the team to build another aspect of the game that can prove to be largely beneficial — having patience.
“We’ve been working hard defensively which is always something that we do in Westby,” Constalie said. “We’re not really big and tall but we’ve been doing a lot of work on rebounding and having good technique, and normally the team becomes pretty patient when they’re taking care of the ball.”