Bulldogs ready to take next step
Defending M&O champions are stocked with experienced and talented players
Monday, November 25, 2013 6:00 PM
PESHTIGO - The Peshtigo Bulldogs boys' basketball team is the class of the M&O Conference. Three straight conference titles, five senior starters and a coach dedicated to defense and development.
On paper, the Bulldogs are a fan's dream to root for, but head coach Ryan Spaulding feels his team has more to prove.
"We've won the conference three straight years, we've done the right things, but there's more left to do," Spaulding said. "Our goal every year is to go deep into the playoffs and we're continuing to make that the top priority."
The Bulldogs success will begin in the capable hands of 6-2 senior guard Zack Neumann and 6-3 forward Jordan Berth.
Neumann and Berth are entering their fourth year on the varsity. Neuman has been up on the top squad since the start of his career and Berth was called up late in his freshman campaign.
The chemistry both players have developed over the years is second-to-none and it seems like they have a knack for knowing where the other is at all times on the court.
"Jordan and Zack have had great careers in this program and also have put in the hard work necessary for their success," Spaulding said. "I expect them to lead us once again and to grow even more as basketball players."
Even though Berth and Neumann can spot up 20 points a piece on any given night, Spaulding is stressing the importance of a supporting cast.
"We have other guys that need to step up in order for us to make the next step," Spaulding said. "There are several guys I think are ready for it, we just need them to be consistent."
Peshtigo's three other senior starters are Gunner Kinney (5-10), Levi Sanborn (6-0) and A.J. Woller (6-1).
Kinney started every game last year and is a 3-point threat who plays well on both sides of the ball.
Woller split starting duties last year and grew as the year went on and Sanborn was the team's sixth man, usually providing a much-needed spark off the bench.
In the Bulldogs' first game of the season against Marinette last Tuesday, Neumann led the team with 17 points, Berth had 10 and Kinney added nine.
Off the bench, bruising senior forward Darius Dohl (6-0) will spell Berth when needed and poses an inside presence on defense.
Sophomore Logan Noffke (6-2) played last season on varsity and saw some valuable minutes. He's not expected to score a ton, but will be looked upon to step up his role.
Junior Brendon Thomas (5-10) is the team's only true point guard and provides ballhandling stability off the bench along with a smooth shooting stroke.
Other players include senior Andrew Majewski (5-11) and juniors Jordan Jones (5-11), Trevor Igl (6-0) and Kris VanSickle (5-11).
The Bulldogs' bread-and-butter last season was their 1-3-1 half-court trap on defense and also a full-court press that could change a six-point deficit into a six-point lead in a hurry.
"I feel confident in going about eight deep right now and others are developing along the way," Spaulding said. "This is a group that has won, but they're still hungry to get better."
On top of playing well in the M&O, Spaulding feels his team's non-conference schedule is just as vital.
The Bulldogs will play in a tournament at the Kress Center in Green Bay over Christmas break, which will serve as a building block for the team.
"Teams are gunning for us this year, there's no doubt about it," Spaulding said.
"All we can do is play our style of basketball and work hard every day in practice. A lot of these kids put the time in this summer and are in the gym quite a bit so I'm hoping the hard work pays off."
Nate Motkowski coaches the junior varsity team and Matt Paris coaches the freshman squad.