STEVENS POINT – The season after you win a state championship is arguably the hardest time for a team.
But Stevens Point Area Senior High basketball coach Scott Anderson says he knows if players keep the focus on the good — their work ethic and playing a team oriented-style of basketball — they have a chance to continue their success.
“We have to continue to be in the moment and keep our focus small,” Anderson said. “We need to use each day, be it a practice or game, to improve and keep striving to reach our goals.”
That goal, presumably, is to return to state to defend their title.
The Panthers won their fourth state championship, the first since 1994, last season on the 100th anniversary of the WIAA State Boys Basketball Tournament, knocking off three-time defending champion Germantown.
Going 27-1 while averaging 26 more points per game than their opponents, the Panthers will face hype from fans and critics alike.
“We are not talking much about defending the title,” Anderson said.
“We are talking a lot about working to be the absolute best team we can be this year and enjoying the process. There might be some outside pressure and expectations but we are choosing to focus on working very hard, playing as a team and trying to maximize our potential. If we keep our focus on having fun and working to be the best team we are capable of being I think the results have a good chance of being favorable.”
Back again this year are leading scorers and Division 1 recruits Trevor Anderson and Sam Hauser. Trevor Anderson, who averaged 23 points and five assists per game, will be attending the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay.Hauser averaged 18 points and 7.6 rebounds per game and will play for Marquette University.
During the offseason, Trevor Anderson played his first year of varsity soccer for the Panthers. Keeping his body in shape was a plus, but he sustained minor injuries to the knee.
“Soccer definitely helped with my conditioning,” he said. “I enjoyed playing soccer and competing with my teammates. My knee feels good and I don’t think it is going to bother me during the season. I have to wear the knee brace for about another week and then should be good to go.”
Two recruits who are already signed to play after high school would make some coaches worry about work ethic, but Scott Anderson says he knows Trevor Anderson and Hauser will remain focused.
“Part of their reasoning to sign early was to eliminate that distraction from their senior year,” the coach said. “I do think both guys are very locked in on having a great season, both individually and as a team.”
With one win under their belt for the current season, a 108-71 stomping of East Troy, the boys are looking like their old selves. Trevor led the Panthers with 32 points, nine coming from behind the arc. Joey and Sam Hauser added 25 and 22 points, respectively.
The community has been known to rally behind the team, and Anderson hopes that will continue this season.
“Stevens Point has always been a great sports town,” Anderson said.
“The community has been very supportive of us and I believe that our fans will be again this year. People are extremely excited about the season, as are we. Our guys are very fun to watch play and I think we are going to get great crowds and support this year.”
Nina N. Salazar can be reached at 715-345-2253, or on email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Find her on Twitter as @Ninansalazar