Schmitz, Red Hawks start season with record, high-flying offense
Two years ago, Gale-Ettrick-Trempealeau High School boys basketball coach Jared McCutchen’s team was young and still learning what it takes to win games.
With the lead late in last Thursday’s game against La Crosse Logan, G-E-T showed it now has the experience and players to hang on and win the tight games—the Red Hawks won 75-64 after a late push from Logan.
“We’re upperclassmen now so it’s time to put up or shut up when it comes to end of game stuff. Two years ago, I could’ve used the excuse of ‘We’re young and learning’. But we’re not young anymore so that excuse is out the window. It was nice to see us finish the game strong tonight,” McCutchen said.
The win followed last Tuesday’s season opener at Bangor, a 74-57 victory for G-E-T. This week started with the Red Hawks visiting Tomah on Tuesday, and they are set to host Sparta this Friday.
Logan held a lead midway through the first half on Thursday, but a Jackson Burns three-pointer made it 24-21 for the hosts.
After becoming the program’s all-time leading scorer in Tuesday’s win, senior Cody Schmitz scored 12 straight points after Burns’ bucket to give the Red Hawks a 38-30 cushion at halftime.
Schmitz finished Thursday’s game with a bloodied eyebrow from a positioning battle under the net.
“He’s just really hungry,” McCutchen said of Schmitz. “Not only has he put up some points, that’s obvious, but he’s been really locked down defensively. He came into this season with the goal of being the best defender in the area, specifically in the Coulee Conference, so he has that defensive mindset.”
Schmitz finished Thursday with 40 points for G-E-T, which had to withstand Logan’s comeback attempt. A 16-point lead in the second half continued to shrink with Logan’s Bradley Check (14 points) and Nick Joley (19) finding points.
The senior, who aspires to play Division I college basketball next year, said his team is strong mentally. After claiming a 9-2 lead in the opening minutes, Logan took the lead from the hosts before G-E-T stole it back late in the half.
“Basketball is a game of ups and downs,” Schmitz said, “and we know that. We’ve been in many games of ups and downs. We came out firing but we knew it was going to be a battle regardless so they came back into it and fortunately we were able to lock back in and take the lead again.”
The Red Hawks are 2-0 to start the season after last week.
“We put one out of 24 after the first game, and now it’s two out of 24 of the regular season games. It’s just building to be able to play your best basketball in February and March,” McCutchen said. “That’s why we schedule these historically good programs because you want to battle with these nonconference teams.”
G-E-T has grown in the offensive depth of its team, too. Junior Brecken Ebersold had 11 points for G-E-T against Logan, and Taylor Haney had 13 on Tuesday against Bangor.
“If you’re hugging Cody and hugging the lane, we’ll find those guys. … that’s a big deal,” McCutchen said. “If you’ve got some guys that can shoot on the outside, you have to kind of pick your poison if you’re our opponent. I kind of like our rhythm on offense right now.”
G-E-T 74 Bangor 57
Schmitz finished with a double-double for the Red Hawks in their season opener last Tuesday, scoring 35 points and adding 15 rebounds.
He became the program’s all-time leading scorer, too, passing 2016 graduate Nick Wagner (1,815). Schmitz now sits at 1,886 points, just shy of the district record held by 2019 girls’ player Lexi Wagner (1,914).
Haney (13) and Mason Brone (12) also had productive games for G-E-T, while the Cardinals saw three players finish in double-digit scoring.
“I thought we did some pretty nice things offensively against Bangor,” McCutchen said. “In the second half we ran out of steam a little bit and played pretty evenly. That’s some of those growing things early in the season you try to clean up by Christmas time, but I thought the Bangor game was a good start for us.”
G-E-T (field goals/attempts-free throws/attempts-rebounds-fouls-points)—Puent 0/0-0/0-0-1-0; Burns 1/6-0/0-8-1-2; Brone 5/10-1/2-3-5-12; Ebersold 0/4-0/0-2-4-0; Beedle 1/3-0/0-1-3-2; Schmitz 11/22-9/13-15-2-35; Anibas 4/13-0/0-3-0-13; Repaal 0/0-0/0-4-3-0.