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D5 Preseason Top Ten -- Wauzeka-Steuben looks to take next step with talented lineup

10/21/2019, 1:15pm CDT
By Mark Miller

The 2019-20 edition of the 352-page Wisconsin Basketball Yearbook is now available for purchase. Order your WBY by visiting www.wbby.com.

Here is a sneak preview of the top 10 teams in the preseason poll of Division 5 schools included in the Wisconsin Basketball Yearbook …


Carter Lomas

1. Wauzeka-Steuben
Coach: Gary Hines, 4th year
Top Players: Carter Lomas (6-4, Sr., 20.9 ppg, 6.8 rpg), Gavin Ralph (6-3, Jr., 16.0 ppg, 6.7 rpg), Jake Reichmann (6-1, Sr., 10.8 ppg, 4.5 rpg), Ryan Beers (5-8, Sr.), Riley Hooker (6-3, Sr.), Dawson Swatek (5-11, Sr.).  
2018-19 Records: 22-2, 14-0 in Ridge & Valley Conference
Outlook: After losing in a Division 5 regional game at home to Southwestern last March, the Hornets figure to be exceptionally hungry to advance further in the postseason in 2019-20. Coach Gary Hines welcomes back three double-figure scorers in seniors Carter Lomas and Jake Reichmann, along with junior Gavin Ralph. Lomas is a three-time first-team all-league selection who can score inside and from beyond the three-point arc. Ralph is a two-time first-team all-league pick while Reichmann does an excellent job of running things from his position in the backcourt. Depth could be an issue for the Hornets, though their JV team went 20-2 last winter.
Coach’s Comments: "Experience, quickness, guard depth and the desire to succeed are among our strong points. Accepting team roles and depth at the post position are concerns."


Zane Langrehr

2. Bangor
Coach: Jacob Pederson, 2nd year
Top Players: Grant Manke (6-5, Sr., 23.5 ppg, 13.8 rpg), Hank Reader (6-0, Jr., 10.5  ppg, 4.4 rpg), Zane Langrehr (6-2, Jr., 12.3 ppg, 3.7 rpg), Carter Horstman (5-10, Sr.), Mathieu Oesterle (5-11, Soph.), Will Reader (6-0, Soph.), Sam Wittmershaus (6-3, Jr.).  
2018-19 Records: 25-2, 14-0 in Scenic Bluffs Conference
Outlook: Like so many teams in the preseason rankings, Bangor has plenty of returning experience from a very successful squad. The Cardinals won 25 games a year ago, qualified for the WIAA Division 5 State Tournament and welcome back their top three performers in Grant Manke, Hank Reader and Zane Langrehr. Manke is one of the most consistent and productive frontcourt performers in the state and averaged 23.5 points and 13.8 rebounds as a junior. Langrehr is an emerging collegiate prospect with good size, excellent skills and a big-time motor. Depth figures to arrive from JV and freshmen teams that went a combined 28-5.
Coach’s Comments: "Speed and team chemistry figure to be our top assets. Depth and lack of experience are among our concerns."


Matt Waldera

3. Blair-Taylor
Coach: Randy Storlie, 31st year
Top Players: Matt Waldera (6-5, Jr., 14.1 ppg, 8.7 rpg), Kyle Steien (6-1, Jr., 13.8 ppg, 6.7 rpg), Issac Nerby (6-2, Sr., 9.4 ppg, 2.2 rpg), Logan Smith (6-3, Sr., 9.5 ppg, 6.7 rpg), Alec Reismann (6-2, Jr., 7.2 ppg, 2.1 rpg), Nick Shepherd (5-10, Sr., 4.5 ppg), Cain Fremstad (6-2, Soph., 4.6 ppg, 2.8 rpg).  
2018-19 Records: 24-2, 13-1 in Dairyland Small Conference
Outlook: With 559 career victories, Randy Storlie has been around the block more than a few times as a high school basketball coach. So when he says he is very excited and encouraged about the upcoming season, opponents better take notice. Simply put, the Wildcats are loaded with size, talent and depth. Matt Waldera is one of the top class of 2021 prospects in Wisconsin thanks to his combination of size, athleticism and skill. His versatility gives Blair-Taylor an added dimension that most other squads do not possess. Joining Waldera as returning starters from a club that won 24 games are seniors Isaac Nerby and Logan Smith, along with junior Kyle Steien. Mark down January 11th on your calendar as Blair-Taylor travels to Bangor to take on the Cardinals in a match-up of Division 5 state powerhouse programs. 
Coach’s Comments: "Experience, scoring and overall size are among our strengths. Finding enough playing time for a very deep bench is our top concern."


Jacob Ognacevic

4. Sheboygan Lutheran
Coach: Nick Verhagen, 8th year
Top Players: Jacob Ognacevic (6-8, Sr., 30.2 ppg, 15.7 rpg), Jonah Jurss (6-1, Jr., 6.5 ppg, 3.2 rpg), Casey Verhagen (6-0, Soph., 10.0 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 9.6 apg), Robby Michael (5-11, Soph., 2.2 ppg), Colin Girdaukas (6-2, Soph., 2.1 ppg, 2.0 rpg).  
2018-19 Records: 27-2, 12-1 in Big East Conference
Outlook: The defending WIAA Division 5 state champions boast some solid returning experience, led by Valparaiso recruit Jacob Ognacevic and cat-quick sophomore guard Casey Verhagen. But coach Nick Verhagen must replace a pair of double-figure scorers in Delvin Barnstable (17.7 ppg) and Graden Grabowski (10.5 ppg). Sophomores Robby Michael and Colin Girdaukas saw some minutes off the bench as freshmen and figure to move into more prominent roles this time around. Ognacevic is an incredible productive forward who is a very difficult match-up with because of his ability to score from the perimeter and in the post. Verhagen has outstanding speed and quickness, and does an excellent job of locating open teammates.
Coach’s Comments: "Experience, work ethic, unity, defensive intensity and the ability to score are strengths. Depth and youth are among our concerns."


Peyton Moldenhauer

5. Randolph
Coach: Tyler Fischer, 7th year
Top Players: Peyton Moldenhauer (6-2, Sr., 12.5 ppg, 5.2 rpg), Brayden Haffele (6-1, Jr., 10.0 ppg, 4.3 rpg), Travis Alvin (6-4, Soph., 6.1 ppg, 4.8 rpg), Sam Grieger (6-1, Soph., 3.8 ppg, 2.8 rpg), Parker Kohn (6-2, Jr., 3.2 ppg, 2.8 rpg), Tanner Moldenhauer (6-5, Soph.), Jordan Tietz (5-10, Jr.).  
2018-19 Records: 24-1, 14-0 in Trailways West Conference
Outlook: Traditionally strong Randolph won its first 24 games last winter before falling to league-rival Rio by a final score of 46-43 in a sectional semifinal contest. Coach Tyler Fischer must overcome some significant graduation losses, but he does welcome back two double-figure scorers in senior Peyton Moldenhauer and junior Brayden Haffele. Moldenhauer and Haffele figure to comprise one of the top backcourt combinations in all of Division 5 as each is skilled, smart and eager to take the program back to the WIAA State Tournament. Also back from a year ago are junior Parker Kohn and promising sophomores Travis Alvin and Sam Grieger. There is plenty of strong competition within the Western Division of the Trailways Conference so Randolph figures to get challenged in most of the games on its 22-game schedule.
Coach’s Comments: "Team chemistry is our No. 1 strength and I also believe we have very good returning experience. Depth and size are among our question marks."


Isaac Soumis

6. Thorp
Coach: Rich Sonnentag, 21st year
Top Players: Isaac Soumis (6-6, Sr., 10.8 ppg, 8.4 rpg), Ethan Reis (6-1, Sr., 18.0 ppg, 4.3 rpg), Aidan Reis (6-0, Soph.), Jack Syryczak (6-0, Jr.), Jon Slagoski (6-2, Sr.), Zander Rockow (6-1, Frosh.), Ryan Raether (5-11, Soph..  
2018-19 Records: 15-10, 8-6 in Western Cloverbelt Conference
Outlook: Southwest Minnesota State recruit Isaac Soumis might be the best player few know about as he is an athletic 6-foot-6 forward who can score, rebound, block shots and run the floor. Soumis and productive senior Ethan Reis form a solid one-two scoring punch for Thorp, which competes in the extremely competitive Western Cloverbelt Conference. Though coach Rich Sonnentag needs to fill in some newcomers around Soumis and Reis, the rugged schedule Thorp plays each season always prepares the Cardinals well for the WIAA playoffs. That figures to be the case once again in 2019-20. 
Coach’s Comments: "We have some very talented players in Reis and Soumis. They bring a lot to the gym. We need to fill in around them. Players are there, they just need to develop."

7. Barneveld
Coach: Tyler Sulivan, 3rd year
Top Players: Seth Sullivan (5-9, Sr., 6 ppg, 2 rpg), Jack Thompson (6-5, Sr., 8 ppg, 4 rpg), Reece Peterson (6-2, Sr., 2 ppg, 2 rpg), Spencer Sullivan (5-9, Sr., 3 ppg), Will Arneson (6-4, Sr., 2 ppg, 2 rpg).   
2018-19 Records: 16-8, 11-1 in Six Rivers East Conference
Outlook: Barneveld might be a bit of a surprise in terms of being ranked among the top 10 Division 5 schools in the preseason, especially considering the Eagles lost three of their top scorers to graduation in Malcolm Reed (17 ppg), Dayne Evans (14 ppg) and Trey Gordon (8 ppg). Still, coach Tyler Sullivan is optimistic his club can successfully defend its Six River East Conference title. Seniors Seth Sullivan and Jack Thompson are returning regulars while seniors Reece Peterson, Will Arneson and Spencer Sullivan saw considerable playing time off the bench. Newcomers from a 16-4 JV squad will push the returning players for starting spots in the Eagles' lineup.
Coach’s Comments: "Our strength will be in numbers. We have great athleticism, size and strength at many positions. Physicality, speed and team defense look to be assets as well. We lost our major scoring from last season, so that looks to be our main concern. We have some talented underclassmen looking to fill those roles, but inexperience and scoring look to be our biggest question marks."


Caleb Williams

8. Wild Rose
Coach: Jeff Murphy, 2nd year
Top Players: Caleb Williams (6-2, Sr., 18.6 ppg, 6.7 rpg), Colton Hanson (5-10, Sr., 5 ppg, 4 rpg), Kane Cronkrite (5-9, Jr., 3 ppg, 4 rpg), Sam Walters (6-3, Jr., 5 ppg, 4 rpg), Matt Wildner (5-10, Sr., 2 ppg), Caleb Weasner (6-0, Sr., 3 ppg, 2 rpg).   
2018-19 Records: 19-6, 8-4 in Central Wisconsin South Conference
Outlook: The Wildcats have a true difference maker in senior guard Caleb Williams, an exceptionally athletic combination guard who can score off the bounce, from the perimeter and from the foul line. The presence of Williams in the Wild Rose lineup immediately makes Wild Rose the team to beat in a competitive and deep Central Wisconsin South Conference. Joining Williams as a returning starter for second-year coach Jeff Murphy is sharpshooting senior wing guard Colton Hanson. Junior Sam Walters gives the Wildcats some size in the post. Finding additional scoring threats in addition to Williams will be a major key for Wild Rose in 2019-20. 
Coach’s Comments: "Athleticism and experience are our top strong points. Consistent scoring is a concern along with filling roles that have been vacated by graduation."


Levi Ewan

9. Rib Lake
Coach: Carrie Ewan, 2nd year
Top Players: Levi Ewan (5-11, Sr., 16.9 ppg, 3.3 rpg), Nick Gerstberger (6-3, Sr., 14.0 ppg, 8.2 rpg), Steven Petkau (6-4, Sr., 8.9 ppg, 5.7 rpg), Devyn Vlach (6-3, Sr., 5.5 ppg), Brock Thiede (5-8, Jr.), Ryan Patrick (6-2, Jr.), Logan Blomberg (5-11, Soph.).  
2018-19 Records: 16-8, 9-7 in Marawood North Conference
Outlook: Two-time first-team all-Marawood North Conference guard Levi Ewan headlines the list of returning players for Rib Lake. The son of coach Carrie Ewan, Levi Ewan is a true leader who can pass, score, defend and make big plays on both ends of the court. Seniors Nick Gerstberger, Steven Petkau and Devyn Vlach also played key roles a year ago when the Redmen finished 16-8. A very competitive schedule with games against teams in the Marawood North South divisions figures to prepare Rib Lake well for the WIAA playoffs. 
Coach’s Comments: "We have four returning starters who are unselfish and play well together. All of our returning starters are capable of double-digit scoring every game. Our biggest concern is numbers. We're not very deep."


Dylan Kuehl

10. Hustisford
Coach: Jake Falkenthal, 7th year
Top Players: Dylan Schmitt (6-0, Sr., 16.7 ppg, 5.3 rpg), Dylan Kuehl (6-4, Jr., 11.8 ppg, 5.9 rpg), Zach Kehl (6-3, Sr., 8.2 ppg, 7.8 rpg), Brody Thimm (6-3, Jr., 6.5 ppg, 4.2 rpg), Blake Peplinski (6-0, Soph.), Gavin Thimm (5-11, Soph.), Alex Eggelston (6-7, Jr.).  
2018-19 Records: 23-3, 12-2 in Trailways East
Outlook: Hustisford lost one of its greatest all-time players to graduation last spring in Northern Michigan recruit Justin Kuehl, who averaged 24.4 ppg and 6.3 rpg as a senior while leading the Falcons to 23 victories. Nevertheless, Hustisford still figures to field a very competitive squad under coach Jake Falkenthal. Dylan Schmitt, Dylan Kuehl and Zach Kehl are returning starters and each is capable of scoring 20 points on any given night. Junior Brody Thimm could work his way into the starting rotation after being the Falcons' top reserve last winter. And some talented newcomers from a JV squad that finished 20-2 also should contend for significant roles, including 6-foot-7 junior forward Alex Eggelston. 
Coach’s Comments: "Depth, balanced scoring, athleticism and team chemistry are strong points for our team this season. Outside shooting and lots of players without much varsity experience are question marks."

OTHERS TO WATCH: Athens, Argyle, Birchwood, Cambria-Friesland, Cashton, Clear Lake, Columbus Catholic, Eau Claire Immanuel Lutheran, Florence, Gresham, Hilbert, Kickapoo, Lake Holcombe, Lincoln, Luck, Mellen, Monticello, Pittsville, Potosi, Shullsburg, Turtle Lake, Wabeno/Laona, Washburn.

For the latest and most up to date boys' basketball news and recruiting information, follow Mark on Twitter @wisbbyearbook. Email story ideas, recruiting info, etc. to Mark by clicking here.

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