With many of the faces that contributed to a highly successful two-year stretch having graduated, Muskego boys basketball is looking to the next wave to continue its winning ways.
The two-time defending Classic 8 Conference champions and the reigning WIAA Division 1 state runner-up will feature a talented roster but one lacking in overall experience.
"We have some really good, talented players," Muskego coach Andy Capes said. "Our shooting and overall athleticism are better than I have ever had as a coach. However, we are very young and inexperienced. We need to find our leaders and consistent play by the returning players as the younger players grow."
Muskego must replace all five starters from last year's team that finished 23-5 overall and 13-1 in the Classic 8.
The Warriors downed Beloit Memorial, Madison East, Sun Prairie and Madison West to reach the WIAA state tournament for the second time in program history. After downing Marquette, 62-54, in the Division 1 state semifinal, Muskego fell, 89-64, to Stevens Point in the championship game.
Leading scorers Caleb Wagner (22.3 points), Tommy Anderson (15.5 points) and Matty Farner (14.1 points) have graduated, as have fellow starters Michael Frasher and Erik Henkel. The group helped lead Muskego to a 44-7 overall record and a 26-2 conference mark over the past two seasons.
After contributing as freshmen, talented sophomores Stu Vent (6-foot-4 forward, 4.8 points) and AJ Makinen (6-foot guard, 4.2 points) are Muskego's returning leading scorers.
Also back for the Warriors are seniors Will Herald (6-foot-6 center, 3.0 points), Luke Horozewski (6-foot-2 forward, 3.4 points), Ben Schaefer (6-foot-2 guard, 2.4 points) and Ryan Wikel (6-foot-1 guard, 3.7 points) and junior Rob Zolecki (6-foot-2 guard, 3.5 points). Juniors Zach Schulz and Timothy Mashlan and sophomores Wes Kwapick, Sam Greenthal and Colten Dowd are newcomers to the varsity roster.
"This is going to be a very interesting season coming off the runner-up finish at the state championship," Capes said. "We must become more vocal, more physical and more consistent on defense, but the players have the skill level to compete with anyone."
If Muskego's young talent comes together, the Warriors will likely find themselves in the mix for a third-straight Classic 8 championship.
Arrowhead is ranked No. 8 in the preseason Wissports.net poll with Mukwonago and Muskego receiving honorable mention consideration.
The Warriors will open the season on the road at New Berlin Eisenhower on Tuesday, Nov. 29. Muskego will then play at Oconomowoc on Friday, Dec. 2, before playing its home opener against Delavan-Darien on Tuesday, Dec. 6.