Three players from the Buccaneer boys’ basketball team earned all-conference recognition for their efforts this season.
Senior Peyton Enders was a unanimous first team selection, while junior Trent Heikkinen was named to the second team, and Josh Jast received honorable mention.
At first glance, the Bucs may appear to have finished just an average season. They finished fourth in the Marawood North with a 7-9 mark, and they were 11-13 overall. But these numbers only tell part of the story.
While the team fell short of achieving its goal of a regional championship, the team was 8-4 in its last 12 games, and they gave top-seeded Thorp all they could handle in the second round of the playoffs.
“As far as winning the regional championship, I think that as the season ebbs and flows, so do a team’s goals,” Coach Amy Ring explained. “We were playing our best basketball of the season heading into the tournament. If you measure this team by the improvement and progress they made, the season was definitely a success.”
Ring lists the loss to Thorp as the low point of the season, while the Bucs’ win against Rib Lake was a highlight.
“The loss to Thorp was tough, simply because we played so well and we were ahead so much of the game,” Ring explained. “It would have been a major upset if we had won, and to come that close and fall short was hard.
“We beat Rib Lake when they were ranked seventh in the Division 5 polls, and I think that was when the team discovered just how good they could be. We had some setbacks, but we grew steadily as a team.”
Leading the way for the Bucs was Enders, who ended his career with 1036 points — good for eighth in the history of the program.
He averaged 23 points per game this season, and he earned Division 5 All-State honorable mention honors.
“Peyton was our go-to guy,” Ring praised. “He carried us through some low points in the season, and he was obviously a great scorer. He was always steady and we knew what he was going to bring, night in and night out.”
The other two seniors who will be leaving the team are Jast and Austin Dobson.
“Josh always drew the opposing team’s toughest player defensively,” Ring noted. “We relied on him to hold good players in check, and he was also a very good shooter. He knocked down some cold-blooded shots for us during the course of the season.
“Austin has been a pleasure to coach. He is an athletic player who loves the game, and we appreciate his contributions to the program over the past four years.”
While the seniors will be missed, Ring is quick to point out that she will have some talent returning next season, led by Heikkinen. The junior averaged 16 points a game in earning his second team recognition in conference play.
“Obviously replacing players like Peyton, Josh, and Austin will not be an easy task, but we will have some experienced players coming back next year,” Ring said. “We had to bring some players up this year because of injuries, and that varsity playing time could pay dividends in the future.”
Brady Sidenbender, Riley Blomberg, Ashton Makovsky, Reese Isaacson, and Alex Schantner all started for the Bucs and played significant minutes during this past season.
“Looking ahead to next season, there are some huge positives,” Ring noted. “We will still have some holes to fill, but we’ll have some experience, a little depth, and size. This could be the biggest team we’ve had in a while.
“We’re just looking for players to keep working and improving in the off-season — and growing a little more wouldn’t hurt either.”