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Prep Boys Basketball Preview | Bloomer Blackhawks

Prep Boys Basketball Preview: Bloomer building around new roster in experienced Western Cloverbelt

From the Collection: Get ready for the winter sports season with team previews series
2022-23 Bloomer Boys Basketball Team

Members of the 2022-23 Bloomer boys basketball team are (front row, from left): Jonah Bleskacek, Ben Miller, David Taylor, Hunter Marik, Jayden Hartman and Anders Michaelsen. Second row: Karim Bah, Jake Bleskacek, Collin Crane, Michael Taylor, Evan Rogge, Domanyck Schwarzenberger and Zeke Strand

BLOOMER — The Bloomer boys basketball team enters this season in a bit of a different position than many of its fellow Western Cloverbelt Conference teams.

While many teams in the league return the majority of their rosters from a season ago, the Blackhawks will have many new faces taking the court this winter.

But sixth-year Bloomer coach Greg Van Grunsven believes plenty of ability lies within those new players and the team will have plenty of time early in the season to hone those skills in practice.

Greg Van Grunsven

Van Grunsven

“As with all the Bloomer teams I’ve coached, they’re so coachable,” Van Grunsven said of the team. “They’re such nice kids. Their families are very supportive. It’s just been a really enjoyable start in the first week of practices.”

Junior guard Domanyck Schwarzenberger is the top returning scorer for the Blackhawks after averaging 12.7 points and 3 rebounds per game while shooting 40 percent from 3-point range in his breakout sophomore campaign.

Beyond that 6-foot-5 senior Evan Rogge (6 points per game) and junior Jake Bleskacek (3 PPG) are the most experienced returning scorers along with senior Karim Bah, juniors Jonah Bleskacek and Anders Michaelsen and sophomore Jayden Hartman. Seniors Michael Taylor and Ben Miller, junior David Taylor and sophomores Zeke Strand, Hunter Marik and Collin Crane will also see time on varsity with plenty of opportunity for playing time after significant graduations from last year’s 17-6 squad that took third in the Western Cloverbelt.

“Hopefully the strength of our program pays dividends and the continuity with coaching staff and Xs and Os and players and feeder systems and all of that plays a role,” Van Grunsven said. “Hopefully we can hit the road running and I feel like that’s been the case.”

Bloomer will have plenty of time to work on things in practice before the Western Cloverbelt season begins in the middle of December with just two games before opening the league season at Cadott on Dec. 13. The Blackhawks will see live action against an opponent on Tuesday with a scrimmage at Chi-Hi and opens the season with a nonconference game at Colfax on Dec. 1 before facing Boyceville at the Northwest Tipoff Classic at UW-Stout on Dec. 10.

Overall the team plays just seven games before the start of January before a busier schedule in the final months of the season.

“My experience and my preference over the years is to play as few games as possible before Christmas,” Van Grunsven said. “We like to spend some time in the gym. We like to work out anything that we need to in the first month to six weeks of the season and as we get going into January-February then we play a lot more and I think is going to benefit us as well.”

Many teams in the Western Cloverbelt return the majority of their varsity lineups — led by defending league champion Fall Creek — so as always the battle for victories in the league will be tough.

“Virtually everyone returns the lion’s share of their team back,” Van Grunsven said. “So I think the conference is going to be strong. It’s going to be very competitive and we hope that we can compete with them.”

And until that time comes to start the league season, the Blackhawks will have plenty of opportunities to test the team in practice.

“We just hope we’re able to throw enough situations and scenarios at the kids that as the year goes on we’re prepared for just about every game situation, scenario, pace of play, style of play that comes our way and at the same time being able to dictate the style of play we want to play,” Van Grunsven said.

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