I would have made this earlier, but for some reason I am getting an application error while logging into the forum on my computer. My phone is still logged in, but I don't know why it isn't working on my computer. 🤷‍♂️
With games starting this week for the 2019-2020 boys basketball season, it is a good time to take a look at how the Coulee conference might shape up this season. Just like last season, the Coulee is pretty down this year, so it is wide open.

Last Season’s Standings:
G-E-T - 14-11 (9-3) - Lost in regional final to Stratford
Luther - 14-10 (9-3) - Lost in regional semifinal to New Glarus
Westby - 15-7 (8-4) - Lost in regional semifinal to G-E-T
West Salem - 11-13 (8-4) - Lost in regional semifinal to Mauston
Viroqua - 8-15 (5-7) - Lost in regional quarterfinal to Adams-Friendship
Black River Falls - 5-18 (2-10) - Lost in regional quarterfinal to Altoona
Arcadia - 4-17 (1-11) - Lost in regional quarterfinal to West Salem

G-E-T lost 2nd team all-conference selection Jake Jumbeck and honorable mentions Ben Thompson and Alex Pearson along with Josh Jumbeck and Keagan Wall, who both came off the bench. They get back 1st team selection Sawyer Schmidt as well as starter Grant Beirne and bench players Trent Harshman, Davis Wenthe, and others. This squad will probably be better than last season.
G-E-T’s schedule is pretty balanced this season. They start off with Rushford-Peterson, a pretty solid team from the Three Rivers conference in Minnesota, and Bangor. Later throughout the season, they will see La Crosse Logan, Prescott, Stratford, and Mauston - all teams returning some great talent. Their main issue is 3pt shooting. Can Sawyer Schmidt get some help from beyond the arch this season? I really think G-E-T can control the paint even though they are undersized, so if they can stretch it out, this could be a dangerous team. 15+ wins is realistic for the Red Hawks this season.

Luther will miss POY Bennett Loersch and 1st team selection Emery Byus. That duo will be hard to replace, but they do return 2nd team Joey McNamara and honorable mention Isaiah Loersch. Starter Brandon Stadtler and quite a bit of their bench do return as well.
Luther has a very difficult non-conference lineup this season. Tomah and La Crosse Logan are much-improved MVC teams as they both return most of their solid players. PDC and Bangor are very good teams that they will also have problems with. Towards the end of the year they see Kohler and Winnebago Lutheran. Both of these teams also seem to be very good this season. I can see Luther’s defense struggling compared to last season. They will need Isaiah Loersch to step up in a big way - I hope for his sake he spent a lot of time in the weight room. McNamara should be able to carry a lot of the offensive load for the Knights as he is a very talented scorer. I think the Knights can win 12-15 games this season.

Westby loses 1st team Ryan Daines, 2nd team Griffin Grass, and honorable mention Alex Gluch as well as Sam Strangstalien, who was an honorable mention the season prior. They get back quite a few players including Joe Armbruster, Davonte Spears, Devin Nelson, and Hudson Lipski. None of them were listed as all-conference selections, but they all contributed a decent amount to last season’s success.
Westby’s schedule isn’t as difficult as some other teams, but there are a couple good opponents. Some of the most difficult include Bangor, Aquinas, and Kohler. Last season I really underestimated how good Westby would be. I expected them to finish with no more than two conference wins, but they ended up being in the conversation as one of the best teams in the Coulee. This season, however, I think they will struggle. Maybe they will prove me wrong again, but losing a post player like Ryan Daines and skilled shooter like Griffin Grass will be too much to overcome in my view. I think they can win 4-8 games this season, but maybe I am sleeping on them again...

West Salem graduated 1st team selection Malachi Athnos and 2nd team Trenton Foreman along with Mitchell Dunham, Tyler Marcou, and Kasey Tart. They do get back honorable mention Josh Hauser and some other solid players from last year like Jack Hehli and Austin Sevier. I remember seeing David Lattos in the roster from last year and two seasons ago, but it appears he didn’t play and doesn’t have any stats from last season. If he is healthy and plays, expect a good year from him as well.
The Panthers host a lot of good non-conference teams. La Crosse Logan and Mauston back to back to start the season off will be tough. Baldwin-Woodville, Aquinas, Osseo-Fairchild, Bangor, and Tomah are some more difficult teams they will see throughout the season. I really don’t know how good this team will be. The duo of Athnos and Foreman will be missed. Josh Hauser was a good all-around player, but the leadership by last season’s seniors will be hard to replace. I could see this team contending for the Coulee crown or being one of the bottom teams in the standings. I could see them winning around 4 games or closer to 13 games as I have no clue how good they will be.

Viroqua only had one player recognized in the all-conference selections being an honorable mention in Andrew Wedwick, who graduated. A few other players that they lost are Sam Jett, Christian Schneider, and Mason Skrede. A couple players to look out for include Dawson Swenson and Jacob Lotz.
Viroqua’s non-conference games aren’t too difficult. Some of the tougher games for the Blackhawks are Hillsboro, Mauston, and PDC. Unfortunately, I do not see Viroqua having much success this season. They had their moments last season, but I don’t think they will see any momentum coming into this season. Getting around 3-6 wins is reasonable for this team.

Black River Falls loses 2nd team Nate Becker, their only player selected in the all-conference teams. Ethan Bible will also be missed. Elliot Bird would have likely been a 1st team pick, but I would assume he was suspended or injured for a decent chunk of the season. Speaking of Bird, he, along with Mike Roou, Gavyn Littlewolf, Chase Yaeger, and Jerome Wirtz all come back and look to improve since last season.
The Tigers’ non-conference games are no joke. Bangor, Wisconsin Dells, and Tomah are their first three opponents, and not long after is Neillsville. Mauston and La Crescent could give them problems later on, too. BRF returns a lot of talent, including POY-hopeful Elliot Bird. If Bird plays a full season, I could see him having an Ethan Anderson-like season, leading his team to a very successful record. Will the Coulee crown go back to BRF after an off-year? Due to their difficult schedule, a successful season for the Tigers would mean around 12 wins overall.

Arcadia graduates honorable mention Trace Bjorge, who was a fantastic rebounder for the team. Jacob Waters, Ben Teske, and Randy Pronschinske also graduate after contributing to the Raiders. Honorable mention Michael Schweisthal returns along with several key players like Chase Patzner, Ethan Weltzien, Chandler Sonsalla, Kaden Lisowski, and Tyson Ely.
Arcadia doesn’t have too many quality non-conference teams. The ones that stick out include Osseo-Fairchild, Regis, Aquinas, and Tomah. Other than that, I can see Arcadia having a much better record than they did last season. Maybe a conversation in the conference championship is a little out of reach, but I think they will not be at the bottom again. I think this team can improve to be around .500 this season, 10-14 wins.

Projected Standings:
G-E-T - 15-7 (10-2)
Luther - 13-9 (9-3)
Black River Falls - 12-10 (8-4)
Arcadia - 12-10 (6-6)
Westby - 5-16 (4-8)
West Salem - 5-17 (4-8)
Viroqua - 4-17 (1-11)

Unlike the girls, the Coulee conference is all in the same sectional semifinal except for Luther, who plays in D4.

Section 1B of D3:
Black River Falls
Elk Mound
West Salem
Wisconsin Dells

Just like recent years, Mauston and Wisconsin Dells will rule this semifinal. Altoona, G-E-T, and BRF will also be pretty solid, getting the top seeds. Some of the middle seeds will probably include Adams-Friendship, Arcadia, and Elk Mound with the bottom several being Nekoosa, Viroqua, West Salem, and Westby.

Section 3B of D4:
Cochrane-Fountain City
Fall Creek

Luther’s sectional semifinal is wide open. Some of the better teams are Regis, Osseo-Fairchild, and Aquinas. After that, however, I do not know how the cards will fall. Luther might get a decent seed in the playoffs this season.

The Coulee conference race is anyone’s game. I know for sure I have overlooked some teams while overestimating others; the teams I projected near the top could be at the bottom, and the teams I projected near the bottom could realistically end up with the Coulee conference crown. As for playoffs, I don’t think any member of the Coulee can get past the South Central duo Mauston and Wisconsin Dells. It’s possible, but getting a regional final win for any Coulee team will be very difficult.
Woah, it's been awhile

Twitter: @mpzflame
Occasional scores for G-E-T Red Hawks football, girls and boys basketball #birdgang
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