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Prep Boys Basketball Preview | Chi-Hi Cardinals

Prep Boys Basketball Preview: Deep, athletic Chi-Hi squad aiming to move up Big Rivers Conference ladder

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

Members of the 2022-23 Chi-Hi boys basketball team are (front row, from left): Kansas Smith, Christian Crumbaker, Jackson Gugel, Zeke Johnson, Easton Bobb, Mason Monarski and Braden Dickerson. Second row: Gubgnit Mason, David Terhark, Cole Perlberg, Trent Lindner, Jackson Tomczak, Carson Wedemeyer, Collin Nichols and Logan Paulsrud.

Expectations are high for the Chi-Hi boys basketball team this winter.

One look at the roster shows why.

The Cardinals return numerous experienced players from last year’s team that finished 4-17 but played in many close ballgames. Sixth-year Chi-Hi coach Jason Proue likes the way his team has attacked the start of the season in an effort build upon last year.

Jason Proue

Proue

“It’s been a real fun start to the season,” Proue said. “Guys coming in picking up where we left off last year, and we’re able to be a bit more nitpicky on smaller things because the bigger stuff is already put in. So we’re able to be more detail focused and detail oriented. We have eight seniors on the roster, and you can already see the look in their eye just being seniors and that’s awesome to have as a coach.”

Those eight seniors are the starting point for a roster with plenty of depth and talent. Seniors Mason Monarski and Kansas Smith are four-year varsity players for the Cardinals and were contributors on Chi-Hi’s 2019-20 Big Rivers Conference championship team. Monarski averaged a team-high 17.6 points per game a season ago while pulling down 6.7 rebounds and dishing out two assists per contest to earn All-Chippewa County first team and All-Big Rivers Conference second team honors. Smith averaged more than six points per game while grabbing 2.5 rebounds and dishing out 2.4 assists per game as a key cog in the Chi-Hi defense.

Jackson Gugel (5 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 1.2 apg), Jackson Tomczak (5 ppg, 2 rpg) and Christian Crumbaker (4.7 ppg, 2.5 rpg and 1.0 apg) are also seniors back and eager to make a bigger impact.

With Tomczak measuring in at “a hair” under 6-foot-8, according to Proue, to go with the 6-foot-5 senior Trent Lindner and 6-foot-5 junior Carson Wedemeyer, the Cardinals have the size to make life difficult on opponents.

“We have some length and athleticism in the front court,” Proue said, “and they’re skilled guys. It’s not like we’re going to roll out a 6-8 kid and put him on the block. Jackson Tomczak at 6-7, he’s a very skilled 6-7. He can shoot the ball and we have really, really good athletic guards around him that can put the ball in the basket and get into the lane and defend.”

Senior Zeke Johnson and Logan Paulsrud, juniors Easton Bobb, Braden Dickerson, Gubgnit Mason and David Terhark and sophomores Collin Nichols and Cole Perlberg will also be a part of that equation when it comes to playing time among a deep and talented roster.

Chi-Hi finished eighth in the Big Rivers standings last season behind Eau Claire Memorial and River Falls at the top and with a veteran squad this winter, the Cardinals have their eyes set on flying up the standings.

“We have what it takes and now it’s getting better every day and putting it all together for the season,” Proue said.

The Cardinals travel to Medford to face the always-tough Raiders to open the season on Tuesday, Nov. 29, before starting the Big Rivers schedule at Rice Lake on Dec. 2. Following those two early road games the Cardinals play five in a row at home leading into the holiday break starting with Stevens Point on Dec. 6. Chi-Hi will close the regular season with three of the last four games on the road, concluding the regular season at the aforementioned Old Abes on Feb. 23.

When that time comes, the Cardinals hope to be in the conference title picture in a league where wins are tough to find.

“These guys they hold each other to high standards and high expectations every day,” Proue said. “They know what we expect, and they know the goals we’re trying to achieve, and they’re working for them. It’s not like we just think we’re going to be a year older and that automatically makes us better.

“They know we have to work and it’s hard to win in our league, and they’re ready to put in that work to get there.”

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