The Northland Pines Boys Basketball team opens their 2017-18 season tonight, November 21, at Home. The boys are hosting Three Lakes, just as they did last season. We sat down with Head Coach Troy Pieper, Senior Hunter Rose, Junior Jack Hayes, and Sophomore Ryan Peterson, looking for their input on this upcoming season.
Q: Which teams on this year’s schedule do you guys have highlighted as critical games or those games that are a measuring stick as to where you guys are now as a team?
A: I would have to say Rhinelander, as it is always a grudge match and we always want to have a good showing against them. Laona-Wabeno would also be a tough won as we played a close game last year, but ended up winning the game. – Peterson
I would say Tomahawk, as that is one of the conference matchups we are looking to win this year. – Hayes
Q: How do you think the underclassmen will impact this year’s team on the varsity level?
A: Sophomore Ryan Peterson is a returning varsity player, and was named a captain for the varsity team this year, and he’ll definitely be a leader for the guys on the team. Jack Hayes is a returning varsity starter as a junior this year, and he looks to improve upon his solid sophomore season. – Rose
Q: How have you been preparing yourselves during the offseason for this years basketball season?
A: We played together in a summer league in Marathon County over the summer every Wednesday, and we ended up winning the league. – Hayes
We also went to various tournaments throughout the state with our team. – Peterson
And I have been the one coaching these guys, getting to see them play together for more than just the high school season. – Pieper
Q: With there being 6 other teams in your conference, how do you feel you guys will fair as a team?
A: I think that Rhinelander and Mosinee will be tough matchups for us, but I believe that Tomahawk, Antigo, and Medford, due to the fact that they lost some key seniors from last season, will be closer matchups and we might be able to pull a win from those teams in the season. – Rose
Q: Last year in your season opener, you defeated Three Lakes 89-21, how have both teams changed since that game last year?
A: We lost three seniors from last year, with them being some of our main point scorers, but I feel we have gotten some more talent from the underclassmen that will step up this year and hopefully make a big impact on the varsity level. Three Lakes returned five of their players from last year, all sophomores last year that are now juniors. – Hayes
Q: With practices underway, what emotions are you experiencing together as a team?
A: Just a lot of intensity really. We run up and down the court and get at each other like its a real game during every practice. We work as hard as we can in practice to prepare ourselves for game day. – Peterson
Q: What are some expectations you have for this upcoming season?
A: I think we should be better in conference play than we were in the past, especially last year. Lakeland and Rhinelander will be the teams to beat, Mosinee will be tough too, but after that it is wide open for the other teams. From the work we put in this summer, I’m expecting some more out of our team this year, both in conference and games outside of conference. – Pieper
Q: How has your offseason adjusted the expectations going into the 2017-18 campaign?
A: We had a great offseason. Last year as a first year coach, we had open gyms where it was myself, Ryan (Peterson), Hunter (Rose), and my son playing horse. This summer we didn’t have one open gym where it was like that. We had 10 to 15 guys every open gym, and never had to scramble to get guys for our games on Wednesday nights in the summer league. They put in the work, and I’m hoping they get some returns on the effort and work that they put in this summer. – Pieper
Q: How has the post play developed on the varsity team, and what are your expectations in this area?
A: I actually have high expectation this year. I think that Mason Daring is our most improved player, he had an awesome summer, putting in work both on and off the court. I believe Jack (Hayes) is one of the best post players in the conference. With those two, and Trevor Williams coming in to give them a rest, I think we should have a pretty solid post game this season. – Pieper