The Isle High boys basketball team turned in an 11-16 record last season, including going 5-9 in the Great River Conference. The Huskies season came to an abrupt end when they went one-and-out in the sectional tournament just before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down all high school sports after mid-March of 2020.
The winter sport of basketball this season did not commence until mid-January 2021, albeit with a shorted, 18-game regular season. Even with the loss of key players from last season, especially on offense, the Huskies returned this winter with some optimism because they were expecting be led on the court by seniors Teagen Haggberg, one of the best all-around players in the GRC, and Willy Stalker, a high-energy athlete who prided himself on his ball-stealing tactics and the offensive numbers he had put up in the past.
Other seniors rounding out the team were to be Derek Smith who saw a lot of variety action last year, along with Charlie Schmitz who is strong in the paint.
The Huskies were also scheduled to be playing under the direction of new head coach Tom Jones, who happened to be familiar with Isle’s basketball system since he was the Huskies’ assistant coach for quite some time
In his new role, Jones put forward a formidable agenda. He had hopes his team would be “able to improve every day, beat Onamia (High School) twice, beat Hinckley/Finlayson, win the GRC championship, and get past the first round in the post-season tournament.”
As for Jones’ aspirations, he was referring to the fact that the Huskies had not beaten Onamia twice in one season since the 2016-17 campaign, and they had not beaten Hinckley/Finlayson at all since 2012.
Whether or not there was to be a post-season in high school basketball throughout the state was still being negotiated as of Jan.27.
Meanwhile, Isle was in the throngs of coping with the pandemic and other health-related problems among the 12 varsity players on their roster, leading to an 0-5 start. But Isle is hopeful those issues will be resolved by the beginning of February and they can be competitive again in the Great River Conference and on the way to achieving Jones’ lofty goals.