PEMBINE, Wis. - Goodman-Pembine hopes to make another strong tournament run starting Tuesday at Elcho.
The 2012 senior-dominated Patriots, who posted a 20-5 record, eventually fell in the tournament to the eventual state champion and "Mr. Basketball."
The 2013 edition takes an 11-10 record to Elcho (10-12) for a WIAA Division 5 boys basketball regional opener. Tip-off is 7 p.m.
"I am really proud of this team and the way they've competed this year," first-year Patriots coach Paul Whitt said. "I think there was some pressure on this team coming into the season. The reality is that this was a totally different team, a young team, that had the challenge of losing our leading scorer and rebounder halfway through the season.
"Add to it a new coach, the third coach in three years for some, and it is a lot to ask of a group of guys to compete and succeed. But they have fought hard, gotten better, developed their roles, and responded like champions every time I've asked."
Goodman-Pembine ended 2012 by winning the Lena Holiday Tournament, a first for the program.
"I know that's a highlight they'll remember for a long time."
Trent Heath (15.6 ppg), Alex Whitt (7.3 rebounds) and Roman Grebin (3.1 assists) are the team leaders.
"Trent was extremely talented entering the season, but continues to improve and develop into an all-around team player," coach Whitt said. "Roman has been a steady, consistent, dependable leader on the floor. Alex (Whitt), Randall (Bose) and Cody (Metras) have all made the jump from JV to starting and playing lots of minutes and a significant role on varsity, and Shaun (Seeley), (Alex) Gardner, and Jake (Garrelts) have become dependable players that are needed and counted on."
Elcho nearly yielded a 16-point point lead in beating the Patriots in Goodman, 52-49. The two Northern Lakes Conference schools met again in late December with the Hornets overcoming 21 points from Heath for a 52-39 victory.
"Elcho is a well-coached, balanced team with good guard play, an explosive scorer in (Jaeger) Adams, a post presence with (Clayton) Grose, and other solid players that make them a sleeper in our regional.
"Overall, I think Nicholas (Coach Hall) would agree our teams are pretty even, and it will come down to who limits turnovers and wins the rebounding battle."
Don't look for the Patriots to pull any major strategy surprises for the tournament.
"I don't think you want to change too much of your emphasis for postseason and bring extra pressure to the kids," Whitt said. "So philosophically we will continue to emphasize what we can control in every practice and game our effort, attitude, and focus."
Whitt said "turnovers and the opponent's offensive rebounding tells the story of every game."
"There have been a few games this season where we shot 60 percent from the field, 40 percent from three-point range, and 80 percent from the free throw line and lost because of turnovers and offensive rebounds surrendered," he said. "We've become a better defensive team the second half of the season, only giving up more than 57 points once in the last seven games, and will need to continue that trend to compete."
Goodman-Pembine and Elcho winner advances to the regional finals Friday, taking on the Wausaukee-White Lake winner.