COLEMAN — Having achieved their top goal of winning a conference title, Tim Forner and his Coleman boys' basketball team have their sights set on sustaining that success and even more heading into this season.

With the loss of three key players to graduation from their three-way tie with Suring and Crivitz for the M&O Conference title, Forner knows his squad will have to overcome youth and inexperience to get back on top.

"We're definitely a young team this year," Forner said. "I'm so proud of what the kids in this program have accomplished. We just have to worked even harder to get back there."

Top scorers Austin Marquardt and Cole Woulf are gone, but talented guards Payton Nelson and Cayden Bintz are back and look the part of leaders early in the season.

Nelson, a junior and Bintz, a sophomore, led the Cougars with 25 and 24 points respectively in their nail-biting 61-60 loss to Wittenberg-Birnamwood on Friday.

That loss, against a bigger and more experienced Chargers team, gave Forner optimism his young kids can hang with anyone.

"Even though we lost, I felt very good about how we played," Forner said. "Turnovers are still an issue for us. We had 28 against Bonduel in a seven-point loss and 20 on Friday. We're improving, but it has to get better."

Nelson and Bintz can run with anyone and Forner will look to utilize his talented guard tandem in many different ways. 

Bintz connected on four 3-pointers against the Chargers and he's a player who can spread the floor. Nelson is the floor general for the Cougars and has the ability to take it to the rim against anyone.

Finding others to step up will be the challenge for Coleman, but the Cougars have talent in their youth.

Coleman's lone senior is Preston Gusick, who could only play on the junior varsity last year after transferring to Coleman. He is the third starting guard and is a raw, but talented athlete, according to the coach.

Junior Nick Teteak has the most experience and is a tough banger inside. Sophomore Simon Maedke saw limited varsity minutes a year ago and is the tallest Cougar at 6-4.

Maedke gives the Cougars their best inside-out threat and he's still developing his body.

"Simon is a sophomore, but he's the age of a freshman, so we're still slowly bringing him along," Forner. "Our starting five is young, but shows a lot of promise."

Coleman's sixth and seventh men are a pair of 6-3 sophomores in Logan Zeitler and Evan Stank. That duo is still developing, but also gives Coleman much-needed size.

Fellow sophomore Zach Zablocki, along with juniors Tyler Olsen and Joel Styczynski, will be contributors off the bench.

"We have several options off the bench, but they're very young," said Forner. "We're comfortable going seven or eight deep, but we'll need everyone to contribute."

Forner expects both Crivitz and Suring to compete for a conference title, but he still sees his team in the running.

"We're just as capable of competing with anyone, it'll just be a matter of how fast we develop," said Forner. "It's going to be a battle in this conference every night, which makes it a lot of fun to play."