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STANLEY — On the heels of losing eight letterwinners from a historic season, some may expect the Stanley-Boyd boys basketball team to take a step back this season.

Stanley-Boyd’s 11th-year coach Tom Hause is not one of those people.

The Orioles will have many new faces on the floor this season after the team went 20-6 and advanced to the sectional finals for the first time in school history a season ago. But Hause has a lot of confidence in those players after seeing how they fared in practicing against last season’s team.

“We return some guys that played on that team but also some that got to practice every night against them,” Hause said. “We’ve got some guys that would’ve played had we not been so deep last year and that’s exciting because they’re competitive and they’re at a good level to start the season.”

Five letterwinners return for Stanley-Boyd, led by senior guard Brandon Herrick, who averaged 10 points, four rebounds and two assists per game a season ago as he earned All-Western Cloverbelt Conference and All-Chippewa County honorable mention honors.

Guard LJ Schmelzer and forward Theo Chwala each averaged two points per game while a large cast of players including Bryce Lingen, Nicholas Braden, Willis Reynolds, Clayton Carlson, Jordan McKnight, Bo Chwala, Bryce Nichols, Jake Schneider and Tristan Harris are all in line to claim bigger roles this year.

“We just look for good things out of those kids and we want to develop some of the young guys too,” Hause said.

Stanley-Boyd finished last season in second place to McDonell in the Western Cloverbelt standings before winning the program’s first regional championship since 1990 and defeating Eau Claire Regis in the sectional semifinal round.

“We just want to come out and compete and play hard and get better each game,” Hause said. “It will be a learning experience for some of the guys and I told them that they’re going to play on three different teams while you’re here. This is the second one for some of them. We just want to come out, play hard and get better each game.”

The Orioles defeated Greenwood 48-40 on Tuesday in their season opener. Stanley-Boyd opens Western Cloverbelt play at McDonell on Thursday before hosting Cadott next Thursday. The Orioles have a stretch with eight of 10 games on the road through the middle of the season before playing four of the final five games of the regular season at home.

“I think the guys that return are strong, savvy players and one of the reasons we were successful last year was we were real competitive in practice and that was our seniors that are returning,” Hause said.

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Chippewa Herald sports editor

Chippewa Herald Sports Editor

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