By Rich Palzewic
GREEN BAY – The Green Bay Southwest boys’ basketball team will have to replace two first-team all-conference players this season.
The duo of Will Pytleski and Lucas Stieber combined to score almost 35 points per game last year in leading the Trojans to a 22-3 overall record.
“It was a unique year, and we have lots to be proud of,” said Southwest head coach John Polkowski, who garnered coach of the year honors after his team won the Fox River Classic Conference title last spring. “The excitement is carrying over to this season with our returning guys.”
The Trojans’ season ended in the WIAA Division 2 sectionals with a 66-63 loss to Kaukauna.
Pytleski, who earned all-state honors and averaged 21.2 points and 11.5 rebounds a contest, is currently playing at Division III UW-Whitewater.
“Will had a knack for the game and was deceiving,” Polkowski said. “He did lots of great things offensively and sought out the rim for rebounds. He will be missed – it’s part of the process to lose good players. Hopefully, his younger brother Connor, who is a freshman, can give us a glimpse of his older brother.”
Polkowski said three freshmen could see minutes this year.
“With where our program is currently at, it suggests we play some younger guys,” he said.
Stieber, currently redshirting at Division I UW-Green Bay, averaged 13.7 points a game before injuring his hip late during his senior season.
“It was hard losing Lucas,” said Polkowski. “Not that we wanted to lose him, but it forced us to come together more as a team to make up for his loss. He was a great passer and shooter and was the definition of being selfless. He was all about the team.”
Carson Landry (10.4) and Ian Way (6.2) will also have to be replaced after graduating.
“Carson added some firepower when we needed it, and Ian knew his role,” Polkowski said. “Those guys will also be missed.”
After winning the FRCC title for the first time in program history, Polkowski said he is hoping a pair of returning players keep his team competitive in a wide-open conference race.
Junior Owen Stieber (9.2) and senior Ty Melchert (7.2) bring back varsity experience and reliable scoring.
Stieber will miss the first portion of the season with an injury.
“Ty is qualified and will be our focal point early in the season,” said Polkowski. “If he can get other guys involved, the better our team will be.”
Southwest is also down another impact player after Javonnee Szymanski injured his knee in football and is out for the year.
Opposing teams won’t see much height on the Trojans’ roster.
“That is correct,” laughed Polkowski. “We don’t have much height, so we have to cater to our defense. If our defense isn’t good, we can’t outscore teams. Last year, we got by some games with our offense when our defense was lacking.”
Polkowski picks Bay Port, De Pere, Ashwaubenon, Sheboygan North and Sheboygan South as teams to watch in the FRCC.
Green Bay Southwest boys’ basketball schedule
12/6 – West De Pere – 7:15 p.m.
12/10 – @ Ashwaubenon
12/14 – @ Kaukauna – 7:45 p.m.
12/17 – Green Bay Preble
12/20 – Pulaski
12/26 – @ Shawano Community (Kress Events Center – UWGB) – 1:40 p.m.
1/2 – @ De Pere
1/7 – @ Sheboygan South
1/10 – Manitowoc Lincoln
1/14 – @ Bay Port
1/17 – Sheboygan North
1/24 – Notre Dame Academy
1/28 – Ashwaubenon
1/31 – @ Pulaski
2/4 – @ Preble
2/7 – Sheboygan South
2/11 – @ Manitowoc
2/14 – Bay Port
2/18 – @ Sheboygan North
2/21 – De Pere
2/27 – @ Notre Dame
Editor’s note: All games begin at 7 p.m. unless otherwise noted.