G-E-T boys basketball program hopes for continued growth in 2022-23

When the boys basketball season opened last winter, the Gale-Ettrick-Trempealeau High School team was young and featured little prior varsity experience.

As that same team prepares for the 2022-23 season one year later, coach Jared McCutchen said he can see the growth in his group both on and off the court despite still boasting a big group of underclassmen.

The Red Hawks opened the season at Sparta on Tuesday and will play its first three games on the road.

Practices this winter already started quicker than they did a year ago, McCutchen said, because returners know the system and have been in the gym working since last season.

“There were quite a few guys working in the offseason and this fall, shooting and ball handling,” he said. “The skill level will be higher than we’ve had the last couple seasons, and you’ll see a more well-rounded attack.”

Leading the offense again for G-E-T will be junior Cody Schmitz, who finished second in all of Wisconsin with 30.2 points per game a year ago — a season that included a 61-point showing in a single game against Sparta.

Schmitz has been in the gym alongside his teammates, McCutchen said, adding that he has filled out with muscle. Last year there were some games where other teams were much bigger than the Red Hawks.

Those same teams might be in for a tougher battle under the rim this winter, McCutchen said.

“He’s always been able to get to the rack quite a bit, but I think even more so this year you’ll see maybe his numbers improve on the rebounding end and defensively just because he’s physically a little more mature.”

More teams are likely to key in on Schmitz, no longer a secret as one of the best scorers in the state. Senior Will Mack and sophomore Jackson Burns could step up to score more this season after finishing second and third on the team in scoring last year, McCutchen thinks, and overall the coach expects a more balanced attack.

Junior Braden Anibas has impressed in offseason ball as well, and Mason Brone could see time for G-E-T as a freshman as the team looks to a more spread offense.

Rebounding will be one area in which McCutchen’s group hopes to continue improving, while the team will feature a deeper roster and more athleticism than it has in seasons past. A successful season will mean one of continued growth for G-E-T as it looks to keep improving as a young core whom got their first real looks together a year ago. 

Part of that growth will come against a strong conference schedule—the two teams atop the Coulee Conference a year ago in West Salem (preseason No. 1 in Division 3) and Luther (No. 5 in Division 4) return most of their cores.

“There isn’t going to be one of those nights in the Coulee Conference where you can look past anyone. We’re really shooting for those top two teams, but we know those teams are going to make us better throughout the year. They’re going to make us better come tournament time,” McCutchen said.

The Red Hawks want a winning record and hope to continue improving on last year’s 11-14 record and 6-6 run in the conference. After a strong showing in offseason work and opening practices, McCutchen said his group is ready to keep growing together.

“We’re pretty pumped over here at G-E-T to get going.”

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