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Plenty of new names and faces as Pirates tip off new hoops season

Gilman’s Connor Mravik tries to outhustle a Bruce Red Raider to the basketball during Monday’s scrimmages in Bruce.


In his first season as head coach, Wade Hendricks was able to rely on four strong seniors and a trio of solid juniors in leading the Gilman Pirates to a 13-10 record and their best boys basketball season since 2010-11.

With those four seniors no longer available, Hendricks and the Pirates figure to experience a larger learning curve this winter in their quest to remain in the upper half of the Eastern Cloverbelt Conference standings.

This year’s Pirates bring back just two major contributors from last year’s varsity in senior guards Blake Wisocky and Ethan Grunseth. Ankle surgery is likely going to knock out senior center Joe Olson.

Fortunately, two junior additions have arrived and should offer immediate help. The rest of the “stepping up” to fill the gaps left by the graduations of firstteam All-ECC performer Aaron Nagel, honorable mentionees Dallas Skabroud and Torgor Crick and multi-year starter Trevor Schmitt falls on players who did most of their work at the JV level.

Gilman’s first test came Monday night at Bruce, where the Pirates scrimmaged the host Red Raiders, Cadott and Lake Holcombe.

“It went OK,” Hendricks said. “We have a lot of things we have to fix and a lot of new players playing on the varsity.”

The scrimmage session followed a full week of practice and offered plenty of correctable teaching points heading into Gilman’s season, conference and home opener, set for Tuesday, Dec. 3 against the Loyal Greyhounds. That will be followed by a major test Dec. 5 at Neillsville, the team Hendricks views as the favorite in this year’s conference race.

Grunseth is Gilman’s top returning scorer and ball handler. He averaged 5.4 points, 3.4 rebounds, 2.8 assists and a steal per game in his junior season and made 15 3-point shots. Wisocky also hit 15 3-pointers and averaged 1.9 rebounds per game off the bench.

They both step into much larger starting roles as seniors.

“They’ll be our leaders on the court,” Hendricks said. “With Dallas, Aaron, Trevor and Torgor gone, they’ll definitely need to take leadership roles. They’re kind of quiet guys. But hopefully they will step up.”

Jordan Goebel is the team’s third senior. He’s a guard who Hendricks hopes will add some shooting strength after playing at JV level last winter.

Connor Mravik, Isaac Wininger, Grant McFadden and Hunter Tischer are juniors who also primarily saw JV action last year, but got a handful of varsity minutes. Hendricks said Mravik and Wininger, in particular, are looking to make varsity jumps.

Additions in the junior class that Hendricks said will definitely help out the team this year are Peyton Heiman, who has moved from Neillsville into the Gilman district and Andrew Hecker.

Heiman got some varsity experience with Neillsville a year ago. He adds a post presence for the Pirates but also can shoot a bit from the outside. Hecker is a shooter, ball handler and leaper as evidenced by the dunk he put down Monday in Bruce.

Heiman and Hecker both are lefthanded shooters, as is Goebel, giving Gilman three lefties on the varsity roster.

Hendricks mentioned sophomore post Zack Marion as another candidate for potential varsity minutes.