Having graduated one of the most successful senior classes in school history, Andy Capes wasn't sure what to make of his Muskego boys basketball team coming into this past season.
The Warriors were coming off a two-year run in which they went 44-7 overall, won two consecutive Classic 8 titles with a 26-2 mark in league play and a trip to the WIAA Division 1 state championship game in 2015-16.
But with essentially all new faces, Muskego continued its strong tradition. The Warriors went 20-5 overall to reach the 20-win mark for the third straight year, finished second in the Classic 8 at 11-3 and won a regional championship.
"I was really proud of the kids," Muskego coach Andy Capes said. "We had a lot of kids that played on the team last year but didn't necessarily have a lot of minutes. It was good to see those guys grow and compete.
"They kept that winning attitude we have had the last couple of years. I'm very proud of the season. I felt we played over our ability level at some times. That's always great to see, because we really hustled and played hard."
Muskego won 11 of its first 12 games before falling to Classic 8 champion and eventual Division 1 state runner-up Arrowhead, 80-67, on Jan. 20. The Warriors won their next three games, including two league wins to stay in the hunt for a conference title before a 74-68 loss to Catholic Memorial on Feb. 3 all but ended their chances at a third straight championship.
The Warriors went 4-1 over their last five regular season games and entered the playoffs with an 85-73 win over Arrowhead, which was the Warhawks only Classic 8 loss.
Muskego survived with a 79-65 overtime win over Madison West in its regional opener and beat Beloit Memorial, 64-60, in the regional final before losing 76-68 to Madison East in a sectional semifinal.
"Hopefully, we've set the tone that our program is going to be successful and consistently competitive and not up and down," Capes said. "We want to keep that consistent success."
The future remains bright for the Warriors, as their two leading scorers were sophomores in forward Stu Vent and guard A.J. Makinen, who both averaged 15.6 points per game to earn first-team All-Classic 8 honors.
Muskego will have to replace three All-Conference players, as senior Luke Horozewski (11.6 points per game) was second-team All-Classic 8 and seniors Will Herald (9.1 points) and Ben Schaefer (4.8 points) were honorable mention. Also graduating is key reserve Ryan Wikel (9.3 points).
"The biggest thing they did is they showed great leadership and consistency in working hard," Capes said of his seniors. "For those guys to step up and play the way they did, all four seniors played at a level I didn't really anticipate them being able to do. It was really impressive."
In addition to Vent and Makinen, the Warriors will bring back junior guard Rob Zolecki (4.0 points), who spent most of the season in the starting lineup.