Boys Basketball: Oconto Falls has different mindset under new coach

Gillett, Suring, Lena ready to roll in tough M&O Conference
Morgan Rode
Sports Editor

OCONTO FALLS — The Oconto Falls High School boys basketball team enters the season under a new head coach and with a new attitude.

Gary Regal, the long-time head coach at Suring, takes over the same position for the Panthers.

“Expectations are to work hard every day and setting a new mental mindset,” said Regal. “I expect us to defend and take care of the ball from day one.”

Oconto Falls lost a couple solid seniors from last year’s team that went 5-19 overall and 2-16 in the North Eastern Conference, but also returns several talented upperclassmen.

Senior Mitchell Manns will lead the team on the court after making the honorable mention all-conference team last season.

Joey Walters, Zach Parsons and Jarod Parsons also are back to give Regal some seniors to turn to for leadership.

“We just need to start playing some ball with each other to start to gain some chemistry,” said Manns on how the team will start to click under a new head coach.

One thing that plagued the Panthers last season was coming up short in tight games.

Regal’s emphasis on tough defense could help swing some of those tight games in Oconto Falls’ favor this season.

“The key for us winning our close games will be having intense defense throughout the entire game,” said Manns.

Oconto Falls will host Coleman on Dec. 3 to open the regular season.


Over in the Marinette & Oconto Conference, Gillett will also need some new players to step up.

Coach Russell Long needs to replace a pair of all-conference players from last season, when Gillett went 9-14 overall and 6-10 in the M&O.

The coach can turn to a quartet of seniors, Logan Block, Anthony Carroll, Wyatt Herzog and Elijah Framnes to fill the some of the voids.

“Overall player numbers, and lack of players with experience off the bench might create issues at times,” said Long. “However, we return four seniors who all started at times throughout last season.”

Sophomore Jack Baer also got some varsity experience last year and could fill a larger role this season.

Gillett opens the regular season on Dec. 5 against St. Thomas Aquinas Academy.


Like Oconto Falls, Suring also enters the season under the direction of a new head coach.

Chris Geniesse takes over, hoping to continue the success that the team had last year. The Eagles are coming off a 19-6 season in which they went 12-4 in conference play.

Both of the team’s all-conference players, including M&O Player of the Year Mitchell Stegeman, graduated, so new players will need to step up.

Senior Jayden Geniesse is the only starter back for the Eagles, but seniors Dequez Sepulveda and Duncan Breed also are back with valuable varsity experience.

“My expectations for the season are very high for my athletes,” said Chris Geniesse. “Our locker room is full of a surplus of unproven talent. I feel very good about the amount of work the guys have put in throughout the summer, and I think it will show early season.

“Our biggest obstacle will be our lack of varsity experience. My guys are determined to prove how good they can be and how far hard work and perseverance can really take them.”

The Eagles are scheduled to get the season rolling on Nov. 26 hosting Wabeno/Laona.


Lena is coming off a 6-17 season that included a 5-11 run through the M&O, but has high expectations for this winter with a roster full of players with plenty of varsity experience.

Seniors Colby Borchert, Simon Gard and Trenton Telford and sophomores Logan Shallow and Max Beyer are all back from last year’s starting lineup for coach Fritz Weidner.

Beyer was an honorable mention selection as a freshman last year.

Junior Ralph Comins and sophomores Mason Simonson and Blayden Anderson also have varsity experience, while sophomore Lane Whiting and freshmen Josh Kristof and Jake Belognia could also serve roles for the team.

Borchert said the key to a solid season on the court starts with working as a team. “We also want to be a tough defensive team and have consistent scorers. We would like to have a good enough record to have a home playoff game or two.”

The Wildcats open the season on the road against Stockbridge. Lena’s first game isn’t until Dec. 13.