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Bangor High School's Grant Manke forces his way between Green Bay N.E.W. Lutheran's Bennett Reisler (11) and Chip Kindt (23) while trying to put up a shot during last year's WIAA Division 5 state semifinal at the Kohl Center. Manke has had a strong junior season, averaging 23 points and 13.6 rebounds per game.

With the postseason here, the Bangor High School boys basketball team is preparing to start its “second season.”

After closing the book on a strong regular season, Bangor — which is entering tournament play with a 20-1 record and Scenic Bluffs Conference title under its belt — is hoping to earn another state tournament berth after winning a WIAA Division 5 state championship last year at the Kohl Center in Madison.

Jacob Pederson MUG

Pederson

“We talked about the postseason being our second season of the year,” said first-year Bangor coach Jacob Pederson. “Our first season is over with, and now the second season is here. Now we have to show up every night ready to play because our season could be over with just one (bad) night.”

The Cardinals have the momentum, and statistics, on their side as they begin their postseason Tuesday at home against La Farge in a regional tournament opener. Besides a No. 2 ranking in this week’s Associated Press Division 5 poll, Bangor has lost just once, a 74-66 setback to Blair-Taylor on Dec. 11 at Blair. Blair-Taylor is ranked fifth in Division 5 this week.

Pederson was unsure of how his team would perform despite last year’s state championship, so the wins — and the overall numbers — they’ve put up have been a pleasant surprise. The Cardinals returned just one starter from last season in standout Grant Manke, but did bring back two players that had considerable varsity experience.

Despite their inexperience, the Cardinals have utilized their personnel in effective ways that has allowed the team to grow throughout the season. A lot of the credit goes to Manke, a junior who has been a scoring and rebounding force. Manke had 19 points in the team’s championship win against Chippewa Falls McDonell Central last year, and hasn’t slowed down since. The 6-foot-4 forward currently leads the team with an averages of 23.0 points and 13.6 rebounds per game.

Manke said his contributions don’t mean nearly as much as the rest of the talent on the team’s roster.

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“We have a lot of good shooters on the team,” Manke said. “There’s Hank (Reader), Zane (Langrehr), Jaymeson (Freit) and Trevor (Jones), and they all shoot a 3 very well. If a passer is open or I’m in the post, they’ll pass it right to me. Or if I’m double-teamed, I can pass it to Hank or Zane and they’ll knock it down.”

While the team’s shooters are poised and ready to remain in rhythm, Pederson hopes that a more focused mentality can push them even farther.

“We just need to keep our focus,” Pederson said. “We want to get better every day and keep our focus every day. We can’t just show up and go through the motions. We need to get better every day to move on and go forward.”


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