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PREVIEW: Tiger boys reload with new coach

Mike Granlund

For The Telegram

The Northwestern High School boys basketball team will has a new look heading into the 2017-18 season.

After losing eight seniors who were the nucleus of the team the last three seasons, it will be time to rebuild. And the Tigers, who were 20-5 last year, will do it with a new coach.

David Gustafson has stepped down after six successful seasons with an overall record of 95-49, four regional championships and two Heart O’ North Conference titles.

Replacing Gustafson is Steve Lahti, an elementary teacher in Iron River.

Lahti previously was head baseball coach for the Tigers and also assisted with the girls basketball program.

The eight players the Tigers lost included career 1,000-point scorers Alex Tecker and Riley Stowers, and all-conference player Tanner Klobucher.

The lone returning starter is guard Kade Bartelt. Other top returnees are Anthony Lupa, who was a key reserve, and Brody Payton, who got valuable minutes later in the season.

Lahti is not too concerned though.

“The JV only lost a couple games and the freshmen were unbeaten last year,” Lahti said. “We’ll be okay.”

New varsity players expected to contribute include seniors Jeffrey McClure, Michael Pullen and Tyler Davis; and juniors Sam Risley, Greg Ruhman, Jenner Graff and Gervase Thompson.

Sophomores Jake Brill and Jagar Stillson will also be factors this year, and a number of other sophomores have also been impressive in early season workouts, giving Lahti plenty of options.

Lahti got his first look at his team in action and things didn’t look too bad in a 63-43 win Tuesday night at Washburn.

The Tigers got scoring from nine different players, led by Bartelt with 14 points. Risley was next with 12, which included 9-of-13 free throws and one of Northwestern’s six 3-pointers. Stillson added 10 points and Payton chipped in with nine.

Sebastian Tenneym led Washburn with 13 points.

Northwestern hosted South Shore, one of the favorites in the Indianhead Conference, Thursday night.

TIGER TALES: Northwestern also defeated South Shorer 62-52 Thursday night to improve to 2-0. … Mike Buran returns as Lahti’s assistant coach with Jake Schiff taking over the “C” team.

HON preview

Last year’s tri-champions in the HON — Northwestern, Hayward and Bloomer, all have new coaches this year.

The big news around the conference, though, was the departure of “the twins” from Bloomer. Gabe and Masen Madsen have transferred to Rochester Mayo where their father, Luke Madsen, will teach and be head basketball coach.

The Madsen twins averaged 18 points a game each as freshmen, so this move changes Bloomer from being the prohibitive favorite to being just the favorite.

Greg VanGrunsven takes over as coach of the Blackhawks, moving over from Eau Claire Memorial and Payton Dachel returns as a two-time all-HON performer.

Matt Albrecht takes over at Hayward where Xavier Cummings has graduated as the Hurricanes’ all-time leading scorer. All-HON second-teamer Phil Ziegle is the top returner.

The remaining teams in the conference will be led by Cumberland and top athlete Kobe Berghammer, another second-team all-HON selectee.

Chetek has good height with 6-foot-3 Alex Kaminski and 6-7 Kyle Bilodeau; Ky Baumgards’ Barron Bears can never be counted out; and Spooner and Ladysmith will fight to move up in the standings.


Northwestern................. 28     35        —        63

Washburn..................... 21     22        —        43

Northwestern — Brady Payton, 9; Anthony Lupa, 2; Jake Brill, 2; Kade Bartelt, 14; Jeffrey McClure, 5; Gervase Thompson, 4; Sam Risley, 12; Jagar Stillson, 10; Greg Ruhman, 5. Totals: 22 14-19 63. 3-point goals — Stillson 2, Payton, Bartelt, McClure, Risley.

Washburn — Mat Hoglund, 5; Charlie Motiff, 4; Brady Stephenson, 3; Hale Hoglund, 2; Cody Christianson, 6; Carlos Rosales, 2; Sebastian Tenney, 13; Mar. Hoglund, 5; A. Wilber, 3. Totals: 15 10-19 43. 3-point goals — M. Hoglund, Stephenson, Wilber.

Northwestern Tigers

Basketball Boys Roster

2  Brody Payton

3  Anthony Lupa

5  Jake Brill

10 Kade Bartelt

11 Jeffrey McClure

20 Gervase Thompson

21 Jenner Graff

22 Tyler Davis

25 Sam Risley

31 Michael Pullen

35 Jagar Stillson

43 Greg Ruhman

Northwestern Tigers

2017-18 Boys Basketball Schedule

Tue., Nov. 28........ at Washburn (W, 63-43)

Thur., Nov. 30....... vs. South Shore, 7:15 p.m.

Tue., Dec. 5.......... at Rice Lake, 7:15 p.m.

Thur., Dec. 7......... at Chetek/W., 7:15 p.m.

Thur., Dec. 14....... vs. Spooner, 7:15 p.m.

Tue., Dec. 19........ at Hayward, 7:15 p.m.

Fri., Dec. 22.......... at Barron, 7:15 p.m.

Rice Lake Tournament

Dec. 28-29............ vs. TBA, 5 or 7 p.m.

Thur., Jan. 4.......... vs. Bloomer, 7:15 p.m.

Tue., Jan. 9........... at Cumberland, 7:15 p.m.

Fri., Jan. 12........... vs. Ladysmith, 7:15 p.m.

Sat., Jan. 13......... at St.C. Central, 3:45 p.m.

Fri., Jan. 19........... vs. Chetek-W., 7:15 p.m.

Tue., Jan. 23......... at Spooner, 7:15 p.m.

Fri., Jan. 26........... vs. Hayward, 7:15 p.m.

Tue., Jan. 30,........ vs. Ashland, 7:15 p.m.

Thur., Feb. 1.......... vs. Barron, 7:15 p.m.

Mon., Feb. 5.......... at Cameron, 7:15 p.m.

Fri., Feb. 9............. at Bloomer, 7:15 p.m.

Thur., Feb. 15........ vs. Cumberland, 7:15 p.m.

Thur., Feb. 22........ at Ladysmith, 7:15 p.m.

Tue., Feb. 27......... WIAA Regional

March 2-3.............. WIAA Regionals

Thur., Mar. 8    Sectional at NR, 7 p.m.