Having two 6-foot-7 players working in tandem is a scary thing for most defenses, and for the Onalaska Luther High School boys basketball team, junior Gavin Proudfoot and senior Isaiah Loersch don’t even have to score much to be effective.
The duo combined for just 14 points for the night, but their presence inside opened up an abundance of open shots from behind the arc as the Knights rolled past Cochrane-Fountain City 69-32 in a nonconference matchup Thursday night at Luther.
The Knights (4-0) connected on six 3-pointers in the final 10 minutes of the first half, and finished with 10. Senior James Biedenbender and freshman Logan Bahr made three apiece.
“Gavin Proudfoot and Isaiah Loersch are so unselfish when the ball is kicked into them (and) they’re more than happy to throw it back out,” Knights coach Brad Schaper said. “Because of how good Loersch and Proudfoot are, our guys are getting good looks out at the 3-point line, and that’s just a credit to those two bigs and how they’re playing right now.”
Biedenbender hit all three of his 3-pointers over a four-minute stretch in the first half as the Knights extended their lead from six points at 15-9 to 34-15 by halftime.
“We’ve got a lot of really talented guys that can shoot it all over, but that’s not our game,” Schaper said. “Our shooters, their confidence is super high. That’s not our game, but we try to take those shots when the opportunity is there.”
Luther's size and speed on defense was an overwhelming combination for the Pirates (1-7), who have lost six straight.
“We knew they were going to press, we know they hustle, and we know they play fast,” C-FC coach Jesse Cyrus said of the Knights. “We’ve seen some comparable teams, but they just outworked us tonight, all night long. We just couldn’t put it together tonight.”
That pressure forced the Pirates into 21 turnovers, and Luther capitalized with a balanced offensive output. Biedenbender led all scorers with 13 points, while Bahr and sophomore Isaiah Schwichtenberg each added 12. Proudfoot had 10 points for Luther, while sophomore Nathan Riley had two 3-pointers for six.
“They go deep and have a lot of guys that are going to play fast, and it’s tough to simulate (in practice),” Cyrus said of the Knights. “Even when you say you have to crank it up, it’s never the same. You just can’t hit that level.”
With the bulk of the Coulee Conference schedule remaining, including scheduled games against Viroqua and at Arcadia next week, Schaper is hoping that Luther can continue its strong start to the season.
“We have to carry that over to conference (play) right now,” Schaper said. “ We have to start carrying things over from practice, and we’re getting better. When you look at the year, we’re barely 20 practices in, so there’s still a long way to go.”
With two games this week and a full slate next week, Schaper said that the Knights are hopefully approaching a sense of normalcy in an uncertain season.
“This is the first week that it’s been kind of normal. That aspect was neat to finally feel,” he said. “We’ve been talking to our kids though that at any time, this can disappear, so let’s make use of what we have right now, enjoy the moment, and live in the journey.”
While the wins have been in short supply for C-FC, Cyrus said that being more consistent will be imperative for the Pirates moving forward.
“We’ve taken steps, but it’s been a roller coaster for sure,” said Cyrus. “The biggest thing is keeping a positive attitude. We have to talk about the things we’ve got to fix, and where we’re getting outworked. You can’t look back too much. You can learn from looking back, but you’ve got to look forward as well.”
Junior Ethan Hunger led C-FC with 11 points, while juniors Matthew Bjorge added seven and Austin Becker finished with six.