Onalaska Basketball rebuilding after State runner-up season

Onalaska boys basketball is coming off a truly special season that saw them reach the Division 2 state championship game, a game that ended up being their only loss in 20 contests.

But the elephant in the room is that the majority of those players on that State team are now playing at the college level.

Sam Kick, Gavin McGrath, Victor Desmond, and Evan Gamoke started every game and combined for 40 points a game, but their collective defense was what really made them tough to beat–they allowed opponents to reach 50 or more points just three times last season. It certainly helped having a 6-11 center in McGrath guarding the paint, but even without McGrath these days, team defense remains a high priority for head coach Craig Kowal.

“I think a lot of the principles do stay the same,” Kowal said, “but you have to find some different ways to stop penetration and to keep things out of the lane.”

Without that post presence, Onalaska will live a lot on the perimeter offensively, looking for those dribble penetration options. Sixth man Nicky Odom will become a major contributor this season after scoring six points a game and shooting 41.7 percent from beyond the arc.

What Kowal will really be on the lookout for is that true point guard who can facilitate things offensively just like Sam Kick did. For Kowal’s squad, that point guard role initially could be a revolving door.

“We feel really good about our guard play,” said Kowal. “I think we have three, four kids who can fill that void so to speak. We’re just working some different kids in the point guard position right now, seeing which lineups mesh the best.”

Onalaska opens the season Tuesday, Dec. 7 at Caledonia.