GREEN BAY - The N.E.W. Lutheran boys basketball team has played 15 games this season and so far is perfect, not yet losing a game.
A year after the Blazers' season ended not so perfect, falling short of the state tournament, the Blazers are eying a return trip to the state tournament.
"I believe we can have the potential to go to state and win the championship," said junior Dakota Sinser. "We definitely have the athleticism, the chemistry. I know that's on all the players' minds, the gold ball. We want it bad and we're going to push for it."
N.E.W. Lutheran, ranked No. 3 in the FOX 11 Top 11 boys basketball poll, reached the state tournament in 2010 and 2011, losing the Division 5 2011 state title game. Last year, the Blazers didn't even win their regional but believe that won't be the same this season. The Blazers are playing like a team destined for greatness, and they're not surprised with their results.
"We got a lot of talent, so I'm definitely not surprised that we're at this point," senior Travis Voigt said.
Last year, N.E.W.'s road to state was stopped by Hilbert in a regional final and despite the Blazers' success this season that loss remains a bitter memory.
"We use that as a motivation," senior Nathan Claflin said. "We can put that up there and say we got to beat this, we got to get better than that. Yeah, we use that as motivation all the time."
Usually coaches move on from game like that, but not N.E.W. Lutheran coach Mark Meerstein. He's like his players.
"I think that sits with you for a long time," he said. "I think it sits with these kids, too. They remember, they know we didn't play very well and we want another chance."
N.E.W. Lutheran hopes it's on course to meet Randolph, the team which beat the Blazers at state in 2010 and 2011.
Said Voigt: "Down the road, that's definitely the team we're looking to take on; hopefully in the state championship game."
High expectations, but then again the Blazers do know the road to Madison.
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