APPLETON, Wis: (WFRV) – They run. And they gun. Make no mistake about it. The Xavier boys basketball team has always had the need for speed.
“We play so fast, I don’t think there’s a team in the state they can keep up with us if they want to go full court,” said senior Trent Twombly. “It’s crazy.” Hawks senior Max Oberbrunner added, “We have a fire that no other team has. Our speed and our three-pointers make up for a lot of our height disadvantage and we think we’ll match up well.”
Xavier head coach Matt Klarner knows that his offense garners most of the attention, but it’s their play on the other end of the court that turned their season around.
“I think we play really really hard. I think it’s part of our edge this year. People talk about our offense but our defense has really been a difference maker for us. These kids play really hard on the defensive end and you’ve got five guys that are all working together to accomplish our defensive goals. So I think the teamwork, the chemistry, and the cohesiveness on the defensive side has been a difference for us since January 1st, and will continue to be moving forward.” Senior Max Oberbrunner added, “We had a team meeting with just the players and no coaches and told each other the truth. If we wanted to get to state, there would need to be some changes, and we started to put things together and we just kept going.”
The Hawks can definitely put the ball in the basket and this past season they averaged over 75 points per game, but they will also have to contend with an undefeated Onalaska team that has 6’10” Gavin McGrath, who is committed to D-1 North Dakota. “Onalaska is super good. They’re number one in the state, they’re undefeated, obviously that’s all good stuff,” said Klarner. “Our guys aren’t afraid of that, our guys aren’t afraid of the challenge ahead, our guys aren’t afraid of what may or may not happen. They want to go out and play basketball and play good basketball. And I think that’s what we’ll do.”
And like most athletes, this group knows these kind of opportunities don’t come around that often. “Just enjoy the moment nothing is promised especially in the past year so just got to get out and soak it all in,” said senior Charlie Schubbe. Nate Clemons added, “I think when it comes down to it I think we’re gonna want it more and I think we’re gonna go out and play as hard as we can and let the chips fall where they may.”
(23-4) Xavier will face (18-0) Onalaska in the D-2 semifinals on Saturday March 6, in La Crosse at 9:05 a.m.