G-E-T boys aim to continue gaining experience this season

As the Gale-Ettrick-Trempealeau High School boys basketball team prepped for its season opener against Sparta last Tuesday, the Red Hawks understood well what it will take to have success this winter.

After a 2020-21 season that saw G-E-T finish with a 3-10 record, including a 3-5 run in the Coulee Conference, coach Jared McCutchen said the team should continue to grow.

Defense will be the priority for the team this winter, which could help make up for inexperience and deficiencies on the offensive half of the court, McCutchen said, adding that he hopes to force mistakes and turnovers from opponents with an “extremely intense” approach on defense.

 “For us, if we’re not in a fast break opportunity, we’re probably going to try to move the ball around and get good looks offensively. But I can’t see us flying down the floor unless we’re playing intense defense,” McCutchen told the Times last week.

If all goes to plan, that should allow his group to truly become Coulee Conference contenders as soon as next year.

The team will be led largely this season by sophomores Cody Schmitz and Jack Beedle, both of whom started as freshman last year. Schmitz averaged nearly 18 points per game and was named first team all-conference last year.

“We don’t have a lot of experience again after that. So I think early on in the season we’re going to kind of find out what type of team we are,” McCutchen said.

“It’s not a total rebuild, but we are building. We’re pretty young. … I think this is one of those years where you look at building and then hopefully it clicks and we have some momentum going into next year because we should then have quite a bit of experience going into next year.”

McCutchen said a break due to COVID-19 and restrictions on the number of people allowed in the gymnasium made creating team chemistry difficult last year. He looks forward to seeing the entire group more often.

“Because of COVID restrictions last year, they weren’t all in the gym with us because we couldn’t practice together. So we’re trying to see what we have right now,” he said. 

Schmitz drew high praise from his coach ahead of the Red Hawks’ season opener, as McCutchen described the sophomore as one of the better players in the area and one of the top sophomores in Wisconsin.

“He’s probably one of the better penetrators in the conference, he’s able to get to the rack,” McCutchen said.

Beedle should take a big step in his sophomore season, McCutchen said, which should help the Red Hawks continue growing as a team.

He expects West Salem to be at the top of the conference, and he thinks Onalaska Luther could be high up in the state ranks as well. McCutchen thinks G-E-T should come in just below those two teams and will battle with Black River Falls and Arcadia for the third spot in the conference standings.

McCutchen thinks if his team buys into the defensive mindset, they could surprise teams.

“I think the thing we’ll see through the year is our defense gradually gets better and better. And I think overall, that’ll just make us a better team, because like I said, our best offense is gonna be our defense this year. .. I think we can really compete against anybody, it’s just going to take us playing at a high level defensively.”

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