G-E-T boys out to prove ‘23 regional title was no fluke
Proud, but not satisfied.
That was the tone from Gale-Ettrick-Trempealeau High School coach Jared McCutchen on how his team feels about their 2023 regional title and how it affects the upcoming season.
McCutchen’s group had one of its best seasons in recent memory in 2022-23, a year that saw the Red Hawks crowned regional champions when they caught fire in the postseason after a 12-11 regular season that included a third-place finish in the Coulee Conference.
Now G-E-T hopes to build on that success. They opened the season on Tuesday at Bangor and play their home opener this Thursday against Logan.
“We met with the players, quite a few of the juniors and seniors, before the season started to hear their personal and team goals. We have high aspirations this year. It looks different,” McCutchen said.
A prior youth movement for G-E-T over the last couple seasons now gives the Red Hawks numerous upperclassmen, and their expectations have expanded as a result.
“These guys have three or even four years of varsity experience now. From last year and the learning experience of making it to a sectional game, winning regionals and playing a state runner-up while playing in a conference with a state champion (Luther) and a state runner-up (West Salem), that prepared us well to see what do these teams do, how do they play and what does it look like to be extremely successful,” McCutchen said.
“We want to duplicate that, and we want to do it in the G-E-T way.”
The Coulee Conference figures to be strong again this season, but both Luther and West Salem graduated key pieces from a year ago. The Coulee is open for G-E-T, but the Red Hawks expect another months-long grind against multiple strong local squads.
“Our goal is to not be behind those two teams, and Arcadia has a nice squad back this year as well with some all-conference players returning. There’s nothing on the schedule that isn’t a battle, and I think that’s why the Coulee has been well represented because every night in our conference you have to bring it. It should be extremely competitive again,” McCutchen said.
Senior Cody Schmitz returns for G-E-T as the defending Coulee Conference player of the year after averaging just under 30 points per game as a junior. He will be helped by multiple returning varsity players, including senior Braden Anibas, who took a big step as a scorer in his junior season (11.3 ppg).
This year brings likely the deepest roster G-E-T has seen in almost seven years, McCutchen said.
Seniors Carter Repaal, Taylor Haney and Jack Beedle will be tasked with playing strong defense for G-E-T. Three key juniors come back for the Red Hawks in Brecken Ebersold, Kyle Seiling and Jackson Burns, while sophomore Mason Brone could add more offense this season.
“We have seven, eight, nine guys that every night re going to bring it and it’s been the most competitive gym I’ve seen the first few nights in terms of earning minutes right now,” McCutchen said. “There’s a lot of other names you’re going to hear outside of Cody Schmitz this year.”
Some new systems could take time for G-E-T as the Red Hawks focus more on defense and winning the rebound battle this year. Their defense will be aggressive and quick, which should lead to a fast offense, too.
“A successful year for us is contending for that conference championship. When you contend for the Coulee Conference championship, a lot of times that correlates with contending for regional and even sectional championships,” McCutchen said. “So right now our number one goal is to contend for that Coulee title night in, night out and like last year playing our best basketball at the end of the season.”