The Madison Bulldogs boys' basketball players have their sights set on another Big 8 Conference title this year with a veteran team on the courts.|
"We have either shared or won the Big 8 title for seven years," said Madison Coach Mike Ricke.
Ricke believes that with the team Madison has this season, they will be battling for the top spot once again. This will be the last Big 8 basketball season as the conference is disbanding after the current school year.
The Bulldogs return four players who were starters or spot starters last season. They include Tyler Wiebe, Mason Sullivan, Jesse Brown and Jacob Giles.
Wiebe scored 10.8 points per game last season, averaged 7.3 rebounds a game, and had two assists and two steals a game last season.
Sullivan averaged 10.3 points per game last season, 2.9 rebounds a game, had 3.5 assist per contest and 1.4 steals a game.
Brown averaged 6.1 points per game last season, three rebounds and 1.1 assists per game.
Giles averaged 5.5 points per game, 3.3 rebounds per contest and 1.6 assists per game.
Wiebe, Sullivan and Brown are seniors while Giles is a junior. Other key returnees are Eli Roemen and Jacob Ricke, seniors; and Rush Milne, Preston Nordling, Jacob Leighton, Jordan Unterbrunner and Tayler Anderson, juniors.
Two newcomers who will provide extra depth are senior Braxton Olson and junior Trae Vandeberg.
With a veteran club returning, the Bulldogs are ahead in some phases of the game.
"We are way ahead on the defensive end of the court than in past years," Ricke said.
Unselfishness will be a key for the Bulldogs.
"We have an unselfish team that all they want to do is win," Ricke said. "We have good quality of depth from 1 to 13; all of the players could play for anyone on the court."
It is always easier having a veteran team returning, according to Ricke.
"The veteran players can help the younger ones," he said.
Ricke believes that with their depth, the Bulldogs this year will be able to wear down the opponents. His main challenge will be getting everyone the minutes they deserve.
Ricke enters this season with a 154-37 record under his belt. He tabs Dell Rapids as the team to beat for the Bulldogs to advance in postseason play.
"Until someone is beaten, they are the favorite," he said.
Assisting Ricke this season are Ross Huska and Mike Materese.
The Bulldogs will open the 2012-13 season on Tuesday, when they go to Colton to face the Tri-Valley Mustangs in a non-conference game.
"The Mustangs will have already one game underneath them," Ricke said. Brett Page and Brendon Boomsma are the Mustangs' top players, he said.
The remainder of the 2012-13 schedule is as follows: Dec. 14 Lennox, 7:45; Dec. 18 Harrisburg, 7:30; Dec. 29 Castlewood (at Brookings) 3:15; Jan. 7 West Central, 7:45; Jan. 11 at Flandreau, 7:45; Jan. 12 at Dakota Schoolers Classic (Elmen Center), TBA; Jan. 15: at Flandreau Indian School, 8:00; Jan. 17 Dell Rapids, 7:45; Jan. 21 at Hamlin, 7:45; Jan. 22 at Harrisburg, 7:30; Jan. 29 at Lennox, 7:45; Jan. 31 at West Central (Hartford), 7:45; Feb. 1 Vermillion, 7:45; Feb. 4 Sioux Falls Christian, 7:45; Feb. 8 at Sioux Valley (Volga), 5:00; Feb. 9 Canton, 5:30; Feb. 14 at Vermillion, 7:45; Feb. 15 Pipestone, Minn.; 7:30; Feb. 18 at Milbank, 1 p.m.