Winter Warriors: 2023-2024 Season in Review

Winter Warriors:  2023-2024 Season in Review

Winter WI - The Winter Warriors finished 20-8 on the season and collected both a conference championship and regional championship, which hasn't been done since 1981.  

The Winter Warriors finished 13-3 in the Lakeland East to secure the conference title, led by Gunnar Greuel, the Lakeland East Conference Player of the Year, averaging 20.4 points per game, 19.9 rebounds per game, 5.4 assists per game, 3.5 steals per game, and 2.4 blocks per game.  All of which led the conference, except scoring whereas Ryan Popowich averaged 22.4 points per game to lead the conference.  The Winter Warriors led both New Auburn and Birchwood by just one win to secure the conference title.  

Individual Achievements

Gunnar Greuel led the nation in rebounds, which was highlighted by a MaxPreps and WisSports in articles mentioning the exceptional performance and achievements of an athlete in a school with an enrollment of just 86 students.  Gunnar Greuel goes down in history as the 2x Rebound King in the state of Wisconsin amassing more 1,340 career rebounds, surpassing Jacob Ognacevic from Sheboygan Lutheran, and 6'8 Junior Power Forward with the Division 1 Lipscomb Bison program. Greuel was selected as First Team All-Conference, and Player of the Year in the Lakeland East Conference.  Greuel was also selected to First Team All-Sectional by the Wisconsin Sports Network.  Additional mentions for Greuel include earning a post in the the Defense Semi-Finalists, and Post Semi-Finalists lists by Mark Miller from WisSports.  Gunnar also earned a spot in the Border Battle, which includes ten athletes in northern Wisconsin as they battle ten of the best athletes in northern Minnesota.  Highlighting the Border Battle rosters are Isaac Azuma, Minnesota Gophers commit; Isaiah Kastern, Bemidji State commit; and other high performers in the norther portions of Wisconsin and Minnesota. 

Junior, Adam Bednorski, finished as the 3-point maestro in the state of Wisconsin by knocking down 110 3-pointers while averaing 16.9 points per game.  Bednorski beat out Chris Davis Jr (40.8 ppg scorer), and Reis Hidde, National Player of the Week, presented by PrepHoops and 18.4 ppg scorer from New Richmond.  Bednorski won First Team All-Conference in the Lakeland East Conference with 16.9 points per game, 4.0 rebounds per game, 3.3 assist per game, and 3.0 steals per game.  Bednorski tied the school record with 7 3-point makes in a game, set by Tyler Dennis.  

Senior, CJ Thompson, finished his Senior campaign with 16.6 points per game, and a 2nd Team All-Conference selection in the Lakeland East.  CJ finished his career with 662 points, and 415 coming during his senior season.  Thompson was instant offense for the Warriors in the 2023-2024 season.  Thompson had a career high of 39 points, which is 3 shy of tying the all-time single-game scoring record set by Trent Biller of 42 points in a single game.  

While most Lakeland East teams had their primary scorer finish in the top 7 in scoring in the conference, the Warriors had 3 athletes finish in the top 7 (Greuel 20.4, Bednorski 16.9, and Thompson 16.6).

Team Achievements

The Winter Warriors finished the season as Lakeland East Conference Champions with a 13-3 record, after starting 0-3 with losses to Birchwood, Clayton and Bruce.  They went on to win 13 straight games in conference and earn the 3-seed in the WIAA state tournament.  As the 3-seed, the Warriors drew Gilman as the 14-seed and won the game 87-48 for their first playoff victory.  Then, they faced a formidable opponent in Hurley which resulted in a 77-52 win, wheras Mark Miller, the "Czar" of Wisconsin Boys Basketball predicted Hurley to take the win.  Next, the Warriors would face the 2-seed in Drummond for the WIAA Division 5 Regional Championship, playing in Drummond.  The Warriors came out victorious with a 72-56 final result to earn themselves the first Regional Championship since 1995.  Winter was predicted to finish 5th in the Lakeland East Conference and lose to Hurley in the WIAA regional semi-finals.  

The Warriors would then draw the 4-seed Owen-Withee in the Sectional Semi-Finals.  Owen-Withee just came off of a 45-43 victory over #9 ranked Rib Lake.  Owen-Withee would take control of the game early and coast to an 85-48 victory over Winter to advance to the Sectional Finals against #1 Ranked Solon Springs.  

The Winter Warriors finished the season leading the Division 5 field of player in multiple categories including 80.3 points per game, 43.2 rebounds per game, 20.9 assists per game, 16.8 steals per game, and 5.4 blocks per game.  The Warriors were statistical juggernauts, credit to their style of play, fast pace, and skill level.  

The Winter Warriors set a school record with 116 team points against Lake Holcombe in a 116-82 victory.

Advanced Statistics

Many have come to know Winter for their fast pace and ability to put up points on the scoreboards.  Some pundits and sports writers had chalked it up to playing in northern Wisconsin, playing in Division 5, or simply playing what some had some NPCs (non-playable character).  However, the advanced statistics indicate that Winter had played the game faster, and better than most teams in the state of Wisconsin.   

Points Per Game 
The Winter Warriors finished 1st the Division 5 field of play, but also ranked among the highest scoring teams in the state with 80.3 points per game.  They landed behind Dominican (96.9 ppg), Saint Thomas More (85.2 ppg), West Salem (83.3 ppg), and Wisconsin Lutheran (81.2 ppg) - all of which made deep playoff runs, much like the Winter Warriors.  

Field Goal Attempts
The Warriors averaged 72.17 field goal attempts per game, which is the most in the state of Wisconsin, across all divisions.  West Salem came in a close second place with 72.14 field goal attemps per game.  St. Thomas More came in at 3rd with 65.5 field goal attemps per game.  

Possessions Per Game 
On the season, the Winter Boys averaged 76.04 possessions per game on the season, which ranks 3rd overall behind Dominican and West Salem.  

Preparing for the 2024-2025 Season

The Warriors send farewell to a group of Seniors that made the program what it is today:

  • Gunnar Greuel:  1000+ reb, 1000+ pts, POY, 2x First Team, 2x Rebound King, All-Sectional
  • Curtis Thompson Jr:  2nd Team All-Conference and 662 career points 
  • Malte Colliander: 9.8 points per game, and great overall defender; Mr. Everything
  • Cole Petit:  Brought great energy and was dubbed, "Mr. Clutch" for his late game heroics
  • Sawyer Melchert:  A true team-first Senior that did everything that was asked of him

The Warriors look to return First Team performer Adam BednorskiCarter Petit as Team Captain and best on-ball defender, along with Logan Hautamaki and Kingston Frey, a couple of high-talent freshmen that will take the conference by surprise next season.  The Warriors will lack depth on their bench as they return 4 athletes who saw significant varsity minutes, but look to develop athletes like Dakota Holm and Jared Melton.  Other athletes that will see significant minutes include Austin Caraballo, and Jonny Lynch.  

Head Coach, Hootie Hautamaki, and supporting cast, Curtis DeCora, have a full summer of activities prepared for the squad to ensure they have a successfull 2024-2025 season whereas the Warriors look to "Run It Back" and seek to secure another conference title, and run at the regional title.  

The Winter Warriors look to be short on depth in the 2024-2025 season, but hope to have significant talent in their returning core to make another run at a successful season.  

Coaches, Hootie Hautamaki and Curtis DeCora want to extend their gratitude to the Winter community for their tremendous support during the season by filling the stands, cheering loud, and providing team meals.  The Winter Warriors coaching staff firmly believes that the team belongs to the community, the season belongs to the players, so a firm and proudful thanks is extended to those that came out to support the Winter Warriors Boys Basketball team.  They look forward to the continued support and giving the community another successful display in the 2024-2025 season.