After back-to-back state appearances and returning all five starters and two players coming back from torn ACLs, the Oshkosh North basketball team has little reason to think they won’t be back in Madison come March for the third straight season.
They expect to be there.
The Spartans finished 23-4 last season, losing in the WIAA Division 1 state semifinal to eventual state champion Germantown 80-60. There are no reservations from North as to where they think they are capable of being at the end of this season either.
“I think we can go all the way to be honest, the only problem has been Germantown,” Taylor said. “We have a lot of chemistry, we’ve been playing since third grade with each other, so I think will be really good this year.”
The Spartans feature a talented, deep squad highlighted by a pair of returning first-team all-Fox Valley Association selections, including co-Player of the Year in the league Cooper Radtke.
Radtke averaged a team-high 18.8 points per game last season and threw in a season-high 30 points in the first meeting against Oshkosh West. He reached double figures in 19 of 22 regular-season games.
Point guard Nate Neveau joined Radtke on the all-FVA first team and is in his fourth year of starting on varsity for the Spartans, while junior Blake Marquardt averaged 10.5 points per game last season – his first at Oshkosh North – and earned honorable mention all-conference honors. Marquardt paced the Spartans in their state semifinal loss with 17 points.
Taylor, coming off a torn ACL he suffered in Mequon during the Wisconsin Basketball Yearbook Shootout, was able to rehab all off-season with Elliot Dyer, who also suffered an ACL tear against Oshkosh West in the middle of last season. Taylor said having someone else go through the same grueling recovery process as he was made it not so unbearable and also developed a further bond with his teammate.
“We did the whole ACL recovery together, we both got cleared at the same time and we grew a bond with each other through this whole experience,” Taylor said.
Both Taylor and Dyer are now back to full strength without any restrictions at practice, but it’s been the waiting game for the North basketball team that’s been the biggest issue at the beginning of this season.
Because the Spartan football team made a deep playoff run, the North basketball team has only had six players practicing at both the varsity and JV levels.
“I think it’s really a tough deal for these kids, you know, because they played on Friday (at state) and they start practice on Monday,” Head coach Frank Schade said. “These kids need time to recover. I’m sure they are sore and physically and mentally pretty burnt out. They’ve had such a great football season it’s really just not fair to them. I dont think I’ve ever had this before.”
When the team does finally get to full strength, the Spartans will be tested right out of the gate in the Oshkosh Classic this weekend, facing state-ranked De Pere in its season opener before entering conference play the following week.
Schade knows the slate is tough at the beginning, and thanks to the depth of his team he won’t have to overwork his football kids who might not be in basketball shape quite yet.
“We play a lot of kids because we try to play a pretty intense style of basketball both offensively and defensively,” Schade said. “We have a pretty good core coming back. The five guys we put on the floor at the state tournament are all coming back, and when you throw in the addition that Seth started (prior to injury) and Elliot had been an on-and-off starter, it’s really a nice deal.”
The Spartans will also look to get contributions from Turner Geisthardt, Nick Bauer, Zac Hassman, Kobe Schmitz, and Jakob Madut will all be in the mix this season, along with Taylor and Dyer. They’ll need everyone of those players, especially if they expect to make the jump over Germantown, who they will matchup with during the regular season this year December 28th at the WBY Shootout.
“Our goal is to get good enough to beat Germantown because we know they are the best in the state right now, and we want to be on top, and the whole team is excited for that matchup,” Taylor said.