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Pax, Bosshart will need help for teams to win D-SC title

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Can one man make a difference?

Or in this case can one top-notch prep basketball player lead his team to a conference title?

Area coaches agree that the chase for the Dunn-St. Croix Conference boys' basketball title is wide open this winter. Any number of teams could win it. No one team stands out above the rest.

In that situation, could a team with great player, like say, Elmwood's Steve Pax and Spring Valley's Tyler Bosshart, be able to take this season's championship?

Nineteen-year Spring Valley head coach Rob Bosshart certainly thinks it's possible.

"Basketball is one of those sports like baseball where one player, like a pitcher, can make a big difference in one team's fortunes," Bosshart said. "But this is still a team game and that one player has to be surrounded by good players around him. Often times, championships go in favor of the team that has players you don't expect to contribute but, do and sometimes made better by that one great player. It's those wild cards that can provide an edge."

Both coaches, Bosshart and first-year Elmwood head man Chris Segerstrom, agree that finding those wild cards and making them into trumps will determine who the D-SC champ will be.

From the bottom of the deck

Speaking of Cards, Bosshart laments the fact that while SV return's an All D-SC ace in his son Tyler, he'll be missing two kings in All D-SC players Mitch Webster and Rick Ingli from last season's D-SC championship team which finished 18-4 overall and 16-2 in the league.

"Not having them really changes the complexion of our ballclub." Bosshart said. "We miss 26 points they combined for each game on a team that averaged 55 points per game. We're definitely going to miss their toughness inside on defense and their rebounding and we're going to miss their leadership. They were the coaches on the floor and did a very good job."

Thus, this season's Spring Valley ballclub will be smaller and more guard orientated. They'll probably play a more up tempo style and play more pressure defense than they've done in the recent past.

"We have to spread the floor and find creative ways of getting to the basket," Bosshart said. "We have to find ways to get our opponents taller players away from the basket because right now we don't have a go-to player we can dump the ball inside to."

But a wild card could emerge for the Cardinals inside, perhaps? If so Bosshart will look to post players like seniors Corey Blaedorn, Brandon Colbenson and Connor Birkel along with sophomore Kyler Gotzman. However, both Colbenson and Birkel have been slowed up by nagging injuries.

If Spring Valley is to be a guard orientated team this season, they have a pretty good group to do so. Starting with Bosshart, Valley will also have sophomores Dylan Webster, Ted Anderson and Kyle Shafer. Freshman Kyle Bosshart could be a wild card in this deck as well.

"Dylan has really improved his perimeter game and with himself, Ted, Kyle and Tyler, we have some good shooters from the outside."

Heart in team

While Stave Pax is a player blessed with many talents, perhaps his best talent is making sure that it's still a team concept as far as Elmwood basketball is concerned. That's something new head coach Segerstrom will find out right away.

"Steve's heart is into making this a great team," Segerstrom said. "That's where his focus is and that's what I want our emphasis to be, playing great team basketball. I want our players to learn how much you can accomplish doing something together."

Segerstrom knows a little something about being the center of attention, being a star athlete himself while attending high school in Mondovi. That's why he's impressed with what he's seen from the All D-SC selection in the first week of practice.

"He's a phenomenal athlete, talented and a great leader on the floor," Segerstrom said.

But also impressing Segerstrom is the way the returning senior lettermen on the team, Pax, Brett Bock, Ryan Bechel and Trenton Kendall, have been receptive of the coaching change from Jon Hinzman, who's the now the EHS superintendent, to himself. Last year these players helped the Raiders to a 19-4 record, 15-3 in the D-SC. EHS finished second in the league despite sweeping the season series with conference champ Spring Valley.

"The change has been pretty smooth and I have to give credit to our seniors for that," Segerstrom said. "They've been receptive and positive about the changes and adjustments that I've brought in," Sergerstrom said. "They've all come in early before practice to do extra work and their pushing the team to get better."

Segerstrom said the transition hasn't been too difficult not just because of senior leadership but also to a sound fundamentals base among the players. Segerstrom plans on using a lot of motion offenses while keeping Elmwood reputation for scrappy, intensive, full court basketball.

"The kids seem to have a good understanding of what we want to do on offense," Segerstrom said. "I believe in the motion game and I want the kids to move the ball with quick, crisp passing to open up opportunities to get off good shots or drive to the basket through off-balance seams in the defense. We're fortunate to have a lot of good passers like Steve and Ryan for example."

While the Raiders will take a hit losing all-conference players like Mike Brunner and Cody Maves, along with Isaac Hartung, Segerstrom is looking for some wild cards too, such as two kids who didn't play last season, senior Kyle Krause and junior E.J. Wolske.

"Both are good athletes who are going to help us a lot," Segerstrom said. "Right now I have confidence we will be right at the top of the league, competing for the league title."