Blair-Taylor prepares for rebuild after three straight conference titles

Randy Storlie has seen and experienced a lot as a head basketball coach.

Entering his 40th year on the bench at Blair-Taylor High School, this year will bring with it more changes and adjustments for the longtime coach as Storlie works to recover from losing a handful of talented starters over the last two years.

Leading a team short on experience this year presents its challenges, but the team is excited to be back together again, Storlie told the Times last week ahead of the Wildcats’ season opener on Dec. 2 at home against Greenwood.

“This team is completely different due to the fact that we had such a great senior class that graduated that all played so well,” Storlie said. “So this team is absolutely a brand new look, new guys. We’re basically starting completely over from scratch.”

A big challenge will be replacing two all-state players in Kyle Steien and Matt Waldera from a team that lost by a single basket in the sectional final game to Onalaska Luther last season, one that saw the Wildcats get bumped up to Division Four for the year due to COVID changes.

The Wildcats will return to the Division 5 playoffs this season.

Blair-Taylor is coming off a 23-2 season, and Storlie thinks this year creates an opportunity for new players to continue to build on a run of successful seasons for the program.

“These kids have waited for a couple years, sat behind that senior class from last year and had to practice against them every single day. So that should have made them better,” Storlie said. “And I’m just looking for them to go out and play and have fun and play hard, and we always expect to have a good season. So I’m putting it on these guys to have another successful season as Wildcats.”

Senior forward Cain Fremstad is the lone starter who returns for Blair-Taylor after spending last season as a guard, and he should serve as the team’s leader on the court. He’ll be helped by senior Kyle Obieglo and junior Evan Nehring, who both saw playing time last season for the Wildcats.

Storlie said the team will be “limited” in some areas, but he expects multiple players to step up for the Wildcats. Fremstad has been moved to forward this year to help him get more touches and hopefully at least double his 7.3 points per game from last season, Storlie said.

Attacking the basket and getting to the free throw line will continue to be an emphasis for Blair-Taylor’s offense this season, Storlie said, but this year the Wildcats will likely rely more on outside shooting than in the past due to being a smaller team.

“We’re not going to be that just feed the middle and let the big guys work. That’s not gonna happen. It’s gonna be more of a motion, kick in, kick out on offense, and we’re just gonna kind of have to open the floor up a little bit more than what we have.”

Even if the Wildcats do take a step back this season, Storlie said he will make sure the program continues moving together as a group.

“I want them to have fun playing basketball,” he said. “Yeah we want success, we want wins, we want titles. But the major thing for us is we’re going to play hard, we’re going to become a family, become a team or whatever you want to call it, and I just want them to enjoy and play as hard as they can every single night they put that uniform on.”

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