Door County’s varsity boys basketball teams began their seasons Nov. 22 with nonconference games before starting Packerland Conference play.
After placing fourth last season in the Packerland Conference, Southern Door has a goal of winning the league title in 2022-23.
Josh VandenBush returns for his third year as head coach after the Eagles finished 15-11 overall and 11-5 in conference play last season.
His list of top returning players includes three who received All-Conference honors last season – sophomore Drew Daoust, a first-team selection; and seniors Jared Hawkey and Taylor Schaefer, both named to the second team – along with senior Jack Peterson.
VandenBush said this season’s team has experience, size/inside presence, an ability to attack the basket, and depth, but it needs to have consistent three-point shooting.
“The concern is, will we have enough consistent outside shooting with the guys who are coming back?” he said.
Along with winning the conference title, VandenBush said another team goal is to advance to the sectional.
“I am looking forward to seeing how the team has developed since last season and if we can take that next step in order to make a run in the conference and in the playoffs,” he said.
VandenBush said he expects this season’s top opponents to include Kewaunee and NEW Lutheran in conference play and Brillion and Crivitz on the nonconference schedule.
First-year Vikings head coach Travis Ward has a tough act to follow after the team finished 19-11 overall (8-8 in conference) last season and won a regional and sectional championship to advance to the WIAA Division 5 state tournament, losing in the semifinals to the eventual state champion, Randolph.
Gibraltar’s graduation losses from last season include Sam Lindenberg, the second 1,000-point career scorer in school history, as well as the 2021-22 Packerland Conference Player of the Year and a Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association Division 5 All-State honorable mention player.
Others who have graduated include 7-foot inside player Trevor Ash, an All-Conference honorable mention selection; and Angel and Victor Jauregui.
Ward’s list of top returning players includes senior forward Will Friedenfels, another All-Conference honorable mention selection; senior forward Jake Schar; and junior guard Braden Sitte. He said other returning team leaders are senior guard Carl Burgess and senior forward Mateo Jauregui.
Ward said this year’s team brings back a lot of experience.
“The majority of this year’s team logged varsity minutes last year,” he said. “As a team, we can score in a lot of different ways, and we have some size that should give us an advantage on most nights.”
However, Ward said he’s concerned about struggling against physical teams.
“That will be one of our main concerns this season, as well as foul trouble and shot selection,” he said.
Ward said the team’s goal is “to be the best team we can be, to improve every day, and hopefully be playing our best basketball when we get to playoff time. We’re coming off one of the best seasons this school has ever seen. I hope that we don’t get complacent or overconfident. I hope it motivates us to work harder.”
Ward said he’s looking forward to “watching these kids grow and learn. I’m looking forward to experiencing the ups and downs of the season, and working hard in the hopes of making a long playoff run. We’ve got a lot of excitement around this program, and I want to keep that going, and keep building a strong competitive program.”
Ward said he expects Gibraltar’s top opponents this season to be Packerland foes Kewaunee, Southern Door and NEW Lutheran.