For the second straight season, the football season took a bit of a toll on the New Holstein boys basketball team.
Junior Devin Schisel, a first-team all-EWC performer last year after averaging nearly 17 points per game, suffered a shoulder injury in the final game of the Huskies playoff-qualifying football season and won’t be available this season for head coach Jason Hoerth.
There is no replacing a player of that caliber, yet Schisel was not the only player returning for New Holstein season. And with a roster stocked with varsity-level experience mixed with players off a junior varsity team that went 19-3 last season, the Huskies could very well be in the mix for an upper-division finish.
“Devin won’t be playing this year and it is a big loss,” Hoerth said. “But we’re bringing back a lot of people from last year’s team so I guess aspirations are still pretty high.”
One of the big keys back for Hoerth and the Huskies will be senior point guard Bryce Karrels.
Karrels is entering his third season starting at point guard for the Huskies and averaged about eight points per game last year in earning honorable mention all-EWC honors.
“It’s just nice to have someone you don’t have to worry about bringing up the ball, setting up the offense or recognizing a zone,” Hoerth said. “He sees all that stuff on the court and he gets everyone where they need to be without me having to do it.”
Senior Josh Burg also returns after averaging 16.5 points and 6.7 rebounds a year ago and will be joined in the frontcourt by fellow 6-foot-3 forward Nolan Beirne. Beirne missed most of last season after suffering a broken leg in football, but averaged nearly 10 points per game after returning for the final 10 games of the season.
“He wasn’t near full strength last year but did a great job when he returned,” Hoerth said. “He will be our post player and I think he’s going to put up some real good numbers.”
Seniors Anthony James and Jacob Conrad also saw regular varsity minutes last year return this season.
Hoerth is also expecting Dylan James, Carson Heus, Austin Schrage and Ryan Steffes to be among the key contributors off the junior varsity squad.
New Holstein finished tied with Kiel for third place in the very competitive Eastern Wisconsin Conference last season, while the two teams that finished ahead of the Huskies – Waupun and Plymouth — were realigned into the East Central Conference.
However, things didn’t necessarily get any easier.
Perennial powerful programs Valders, Roncalli and Brillion – the top three teams last year in the Olympian Conference – have joined the EWC this season making for a wide-open race for this year’s league title.
Hoerth also pointed to strong squads in Sheboygan Falls and Two Rivers likely to be in the mix as well.
“I think it will be a very competitive conference,” Hoerth said. “It’s going to be a battle every week going through the conference. There are no conference games where you can take the night off. I don’t think anyone will make it through unscathed. It will be a battle that’s for sure.”
The Huskies finished 4-19 last year, but return two of its top three scorers from last year as head coach Marcus Rumpff’s squad looks to challenge in the new-look EWC.
Leading scorer Emily Casper, an honorable mention all-EWC selection a year ago, averaged nearly 11 points per game, while Taylor Doherty is back after averaging 6 points per game last year.
Other varsity regulars back include Brady Faber and Megan Hickey.
Multiple attempts to reach Rumpff for comment about this year’s squad were not returned.