Boys basketball: Niagara looks to replace lost talent with five letter-winners

NIAGARA, Wis. — Niagara may have a hole in its offense that will be too difficult to replace.

Ethan Blagec, an All-M&O pick with more than 1,000 career points, has graduated after starting for three seasons. The Badgers return five letter-winners in 6-foot-5 Ben Oratch, Alex Hagerty, Austin Hagerty, Casey Antonissen and Zach Prideaux.

“Our experience at the varsity level should be much better this year,” said Jim Hoogland, coach of the Badgers for 14 seasons. “We do have to replace Ethan, who also played the point for us last year.

“We need to have better balanced scoring from everyone and someone has to step up and want to take on the ball-handling responsibilities. Defense is also a question mark for us.”

A possible starting lineup is Oratch, Alex and Austin Hagerty, Prideaux and junior Austin Tripp.

The Badgers (8-14 overall, 5-13 M&O Conference last season) host Florence on Tuesday in the season opener. They travel to Goodman on Thursday, Nov. 30, before playing the M&O opener Tuesday, Dec. 5, in Wausaukee.

“With Peshtigo leaving the conference (for the Packerland), the conference race is more wide open,” said Hoogland, assisted by Steve Derwinski. ” Crivitz and Suring should be two of the top teams in our conference with the rest of the conference being very competitive.

“There really is not a lot of separation from top to bottom in our conference.”

Both Crivitz and Suring return 2017 All-M&O Conference first-team players.

This year’s roster:

SENIORS — Ben Oratch, Alex Hagerty, Austin Hagerty, Casey Antonissen, Zach Prideaux

JUNIORS — Landen Kaldor, Austin Tripp, Ethan Sweig, Anthony Hansen