Last season the Reedsville boys basketball team was familiar with heartbreaking losses, playing five overtime games and losing three.
The worst of those games was a 63-55 loss in double overtime to Valders, which had defeated the Panthers by 33 points just a month earlier.
The fact Reedsville was able to battle hard each game was a testament to a gutty team Reedsville coach Steve Brooks said would dive for every loose ball, but lacked consistency.
The Panthers found that consistency by the end of the season, winning their first two postseason games, including shocking No. 1 seed Laconia in another double-overtime thriller 73-70 in the regional semifinal. Of Reedsville’s 15 losses last season, seven were by six points or two possessions.
“A lot people might look at a key missed rebound or shot in the last few minutes of a game,” said Brooks. “I think that’s a mistake. To me it’s more important what happens in the early stages of the game. Did we miss an uncontested layup, did we not hustle for a rebound. Those type of plays may not be focused on but can make the difference between a win and a loss.”
Brooks feels if his team is going to take the next step, it must clean up the sloppy play that can turn a close game into a double-digit loss while overcoming the loss of the Panthers top two scorers.
Gone from a season ago are Adam Denor and Sterling Peterson who averaged nearly 20 points per game combined.
“Adam was such a consistent threat all season,” said Brooks. “It’ll be tough to try and replace (Denor) but we’ve got three or four guys who can step up in the big moments.”
Left picking up the slack are a trio of juniors, including forward Brock Gilsdorf, the team’s third-leading scorer last season at 7.7 PPG.
Joining Gilsdorf are fellow forwards Bryce Wenzel and Cody Schaumburek, who are all at least six feet in height. Brooks is hoping those three can mature and develop the type of consistency required to compete in the tough Olympian Conference which includes defending Division 3 State champion Brillion.
“Trying to compete in the Olympian is one tall order,” Brooks said. “Having teams like Brillion and Valders in the your conference means every night has to be the best game you’ve played all season. You not only have to stop high powered offenses, but each teams defense is suffocating as well.”
That said, Brooks said his team has the depth with about nine guys in a solid rotation to give top teams in the OC a run for their money each night.
“We have solid depth,” Brooks said. “By having so many guys who can play it really gives us an edge. Not all of them are at the same level as the top ones, but the team has really blended together in this last week of practice.”
Reedsville will get a first-hand look at Brillion and Valders, meeting both teams on the road in the third and fourth games of the season, respectively.
“The WIAA scheduling committee certainly didn’t do us any favors this season,” Brooks added. “I had been hoping to play them further down the league schedule and build up to them, but we’ll play the hand we’ve been dealt.”