Big shoes to fill

Basketball team attempts to make another run for the state tournament with depleted roster


Miguel Paredes Reyes

Senior Trace Thaden leaps up for the lay up at the 2021 semi final game against Millard North. Thaden is due for a much more prominent role in the team this year being one of the more experienced returning players this season. “I’m going to have to create more shots for myself and help calm my team down,” Thaden said. “Because they don’t have a lot of experience, they are going to need to play and get a feel for a real varsity game.”

Miguel Paredes Reyes, MWHS Wildcat News co-Editor-in-Chief, co-Striv Executive Producer

The 2020-2021 basketball season went down as one of the best in school history. 

The team finished with an 18-7 record, the second best winning percentage in team history. This resulted in the team getting the 5th seed in the state tournament. In the quarter finals against Lincoln Pius X, the Wildcats led for most of the game until late in the fourth. A desperation heave by former senior James Conway to former senior Evan Meyersick lead to a buzzer beater to send them to their first semi final appearance in 21 years. The semi final game against rival Millard North Mustangs was a one sided affair. The Mustangs dominated all four quarters and ended the Wildcats season with a 69-62 loss.

“Obviously, losing five seniors will make the first part of the season a little difficult,” head coach William Morrison said. “But we have guys in our program that have played a lot of basketball. We had a good summer and a good fall. I like what we have. If we play together and work hard every day in practice, we will have a good season.”

Going into the 2021-2022 season, all five starters from the previous season have moved on to college. The team will rely on a few bench players who made a significant impact in their state tournament run, the most notable being senior Chase Hultman who played all 25 games for the Wildcats, averaging 2.6 points per game. Unfortunately, Hultman will miss the entirety of the season due to a torn ACL and meniscus suffered in the last game of the football season. 

“Although this isn’t the senior season I thought I would be having, I’m still going to be around to help the team,” Hultman said. “A big part of my game is my basketball IQ so I can still coach my teammates to do things right and make them better. We’re going to be a very young team so even with me out, I hope my experience can help them now and the program in the future.”

Senior Trace Thaden averaged 4.0 points per game in 22 games for the team last year. His 6’7 frame will fill in perfectly for the graduated Meyersick at the center position. Juniors Cole Kirschner and Zach Grandgenett are also due for more playing time, only appearing in 16 games last year. 

“I’m not sure yet who the younger guys will be,” Thaden said. “The guys know they need to step up. The spots are open and there are opportunities for these guys to take advantage of. We will see what happens when we get into practice.”

The lack of experience could be a detriment to their season, especially towards the beginning, while the team gets more comfortable with each other and forms closer connections. Of course there is always room for new star players to emerge this season as well as transfer students from other schools who could make an impact. A notable transfer is senior Jessie Cauble from Skutt Catholic.

Throughout Millard West’s history, every winning season is usually followed by a string of mediocrity for the next few years. Before last season, their most recent meaningful season came in 2014-2015 when they finished with a 19-6 record and a first round exit to Creighton Prep. The seasons that followed resulted in a 15-10 record with a loss in the first round of district playoffs. Missing out on districts with a 15-11 record and three consecutive seasons at or below a .500 winning percentage.

The team will open their season against Papillion La-Vista on Nov 27.