The Hawley Nuggets are coming off a great season that saw them win 23 games and finish as Section 8AA runners-up with a senior dominated lineup. With no returning starters, there are plenty of opportunities for the 2019-2020 players.
The Nuggets lost Jayden Carlisle (All-HOL Conference twice, 1,000 point scorer) who is playing at Jamestown College, Jacob Vetter (All-Conference) now playing football at Northern State, Noah Glad (Two-time All-Conference, All-State Academic, 1,000 point scorer), Chase Libak (All-Conference), Gunnar Lawson and Mason Klevgaard (Jamestown Baseball) to graduation.
"We will look to build on the foundation left by the departing seniors by playing with defensive toughness and selflessness on the offensive end," commented Head Coach Nathan Stoa, now in his sixth year with the Nuggets.
Sophomore point guard Hayden Grani is the only returning letter winner.
"Hayden got his feet wet as a role player last season," said Stoa. "He will now be looked at to lead from the point guard position. He has very good ball skills and vision and makes those around him better.
Key newcomers include the only senior in the program, Cade Carley (Post), junior Justin Koski (Wing/Post) and sophomore Brady Gratton (Wing/Post).
"Justin is a hard nosed rebounder for his size and leads with toughness," said Stoa. "Cade will be relied upon heavily for his maturity and passion for his teammates, and Brady has good length and with increased aggressiveness can become a good inside-out threat."
Stoa says Perham, Fergus Falls, DGF and Breckenridge are the top teams in Section 8AA.
"The 3-man tandem of Elijah Morris, Charlie Rasmussen and Finn Diggins gives Perham a great chance to repeat, but they'll need to find consistency as they replace some big time players from last year," noted Stoa. "Fergus Falls is new to the section and I think they have the best player in Dominic Aguilar and I have loved watching the development of the big man, Chance Fazio, plus their Central Lakes Conference schedule will more than prepare them. DGF will be smaller than last season, but their athleticism is crazy. No one should be surprised if they're playing in Minneapolis in March. Coach Arly Ohm of the Cowboys will get the most from his talent and his junior class has the makings of a special crew."
Perham, DGF and Breckenridge are Stoa's choices as favorites in the Heart O' Lakes Conference.
Travis Haugen (JV) and Dylan Olson (C Squad) will assist Coach Stoa.
"As the great Gregg Preston once told me, 'I'm so excited. We have a blank canvass and we can make it what we want.' We're going to be young and not much will be expected of us outside of our gym," said Stoa. "Inside our gym our kids will be expected to show togetherness and toughness on a daily basis. We'll take our lumps, due to our youth, but if we are successful, our kids' attitudes and effort will never be questioned and we'll play our best basketball in March."