Winter WI - The 2022-2023 season included a coaching change for the Winter Warriors Boys Basketball team. The Winter Warriors had a team returning their leading scorer in Albert Blair who joined the 1,000 point club with 1,113 career points, and 40.8% of those coming his senior year, as he averaged 17.5 points per game. Warriors finished the season with a 13-13 record, having won 8 of their last 10 games. The previous 4 seasons prior, the warriors went a combined 12-73.
On that roster was Gunnar Greuel, a Junior at the time. He entered the season with 181 total points (4.4 ppg), and a total of 287 rebounds (7.0 rpg). Coach Joshua "Hootie" Hautamaki took over the responsibilities of Head Coach, and wanted to implement a more uptempo modern style of play. This included dumping the long-time zone defense Winter fans have become accustomed to, and implementing a half court man-to-man with strong ball pressure.
Gunnar Greuel finished the 2022-2023 season with 467 points (18.0 ppg), and 496 rebounds (19.1 rpg). The rebound stat provided him with the title of "Wisconsin's Rebound King" as he led the state of Wisconsin in rebounds for all divisions of play. Winter is a Division 5 school as designated by the Wisconsin Interscholastic Association for basketball, based on enrollment. The Warriors entered the WIAA playoffs as a #8 seed, and went head-to-head against Bayfield, who sat at the #9 in the regional field of play. Winter, the highest seed, was granted a home game and hosted the Trollers from Bayfield. Winter ended up winning their first playoff game in over a decade by beating Bayfield 94-82 in a fast paced, high scoring affair. The win earned Winter an opportunity to play Solon Springs, a heavy favorite for making a deep title run. Winter traveled up to Solon Springs for a sold out crowd with standing room only, and took Solon Springs into half time with a 46-44 score. The second half was too much for the Warriors as they fell 68-91 to Solon Springs, but what a ride it was.
The 2023-2024 season brought great promise for the Winter Warriors Boys Basketball team, as they return Wisconsin's Rebound King in Gunnar Greuel, a first-team all conference selection, and Junior, Carter Petit, also an all-conference selection. Other returners included Curtis Thompson Jr (sr), Adam Bednorski (jr), Foreign Exchange student, Malte Colliander (sr), and newcomers Logan Hautamaki (frosh), Kingston Frey (frosh), Jonny Lynch (frosh), Austin Caraballo (frosh), along with returning players Jared Melton (jr), Dakota Holm (jr), Sawyer Melchert (sr), and Cole Petit (sr). The Warriors had a great off-season with multiple athletes participating in summer leagues, AAU basketball, and attending multiple skills camps.
Pre-season projections included watchlists as produced by the Wisconsin Sports Network, which included Gunnar Greuel on the list of Top Seniors to Watch, and earning him a spot on the Senior Boys Basketball Awards: Defense Watchlist.
Half way through the season, the Warriors are 10-6 overall, and 7-3 in conference play. Gunnar Greuel finds himself on a more national stage, as MaxPreps publishes an article, titled, "Gunnar Greuel of Wisconsin tops national rebounding leaderboard." Gunnar currently leads the nation in rebound totals and rebounds per game with 22.8 rpg. Mark Miller also published a nicely written piece, titled, "State's top rebounder getting 22.8 rpg for tiny Winter." Greuel currently has more than 100 rebounds than the next athlete in the state of Wisconsin. He is on pace to become the states all-time leading rebounder, which was previously held by Jacob Ognacevic, a 2018 graduate from Sheboygan Lutheran with 1,208 career rebounds. Ognacevic, a 6'8 Forward for the Division 1 NCAA team, Lipscomb University, located in Nashville, Tennessee.
Gunnar Greuel also found himself on more lists published by the Wisconsin Sports Network.
Senior Boy's Basketball Awards: Post Semi-Finalists
Senior Boy's Basketball Awards: Defense Semi-Finalists
If that wasn't enough, Gunnar was also selected to participate in the Border Battle All-Star game between Minnesota and Wisconsin, played at the UMD campus on March 24, 2024. The game includes the most decorated seniors in northern Wisconsin vs the most decorated seniors from northern Minnesota.
Gunnar enters the game on February 1, 2024 against Frederic with 989 points, which would also earn him a spot in the WIAA 1,000 point club, and making him just the 7th player in the last 22 years of WIAA Boys Basketball recorded history to eclipse 1,000 points, and 1,000 rebounds in a career. The 2023-2024 season included a Quadruple-Double, and Triple-Double, while earning himself 15 total double-doubles on the season, and 39 career double-doubles.
Gunnar Greuel has caught the attention locally among conference opponents, and regional opponents, but now has earned attention from the state level, and national eye. Gunnar is also a Salutatorian in the class of 2024 for the Winter School District, a three sport athlete, excelling in baseball, and basketball.
Rebounds often take a backseat to points, dunks, and 3-point makes. However, rebounds can also help teams create more stops, limit second chance points, and in the case of Gunnar, help you earn more second chance points, and points in the paint. The saying goes, "The game is won in the paint" and Gunnar takes great pride in getting physical in the paint, boxing out, and securing rebounds. Assistant Coach, Curtis DeCora, in an early season practice in the 2022-2023 season, sat down with the Winter Warriors Boys Basketball team, and asked the team, "What is your superpower? We all have a superpower, whether that is being a great teammate, keeping your head up on the break, running the floor, making your open shots, finishing at the rim, making the 'dime' assist, moving your feet on defense, or rebounding. Whatever that superpower is, identify it, own it, and be the absolute best at it." Greuel certainly took that speech to heart as he has received national attention for his ability to simply rebound the basketball.
While Gunnar is a great athlete, standing at just 6'3 and 195 lbs, has a motor that just doesn't stop and he never shows signs of slowing down. The Winter Warriors Boys Basketball program has a slogan, "Outwork Everyone", and that goes for practices, games, team events, in the classroom, and in the community. Basketball is a game that teaches life lessons, and constant deliberate practice helps forge positive habits that can last a lifetime.
Outwork Everyone went from a slogan to helping an athlete become the nations leading rebounder.