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Cardinals 'Revenge': After tough 2021-2022 season Fond Du Lac now sits atop of the FVA

Cardinals 'Revenge': After tough 2021-2022 season Fond Du Lac now sits atop of the FVA
Posted at 9:15 PM, Feb 04, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-04 22:26:14-05

FOND DU LAC — The FVA has always been a strong conference when it comes to boys basketball, where a few teams have won state championships in the past decade.

This year there’s a new team leading the pack. The Fond Du Lac Cardinals who are 12-2 in conference and 16-4 overall. They have a three game conference lead with less than 3 weeks of the regular season left

After a 4-22 record last year, nobody expected this team to be in this position, but the Cardinals, they sure did.

‘I think a lot of other people saw us as a bottom level team,” said senior center Will Braatz.

“I believe in us,” said junior forward Ryker Johnson. “Last year, we don’t really look at that anymore. We’re just trying to move forward.”

Don’t call their turnaround a comeback.

“It’s more like revenge,” Johnson said. “We wanted to get back and get back at everybody. That’s kind of where we take it.”

Fond Du Lac knows what it’s like to be at the bottom. So now that they’re on the top, a reason for their success is because they’re not taking any opponent for granted.

“It’s definitely making us play harder,” said senior guard Jamariea Dalton. “We have to worry about every single game because every team can come out and do something to us because this is a good conference. Every team is good, I believe.”

But now that they’re on the top, they’re enjoying seeing the best that every opponent has to offer.

“Teams expected us not to be at the top, so once you get to the top teams are going to give you their best shot,” Dalton said. “We’ve been getting the best shots from everyone, we’re pretty good though.”

Seeing other teams throw the kitchen sink at them, the Cardinals know that will only make them better for what lies ahead.

“It’s definitely going to help, especially for playoffs, because that’s when everybody’s ‘A’ game comes out,” said Braatz. “Getting that now, is just going to prepare us even more.”

The team’s success has a lot to do with everyone knowing their roles. Dalton is Fond Du Lac’s leader and leading scorer with 21 points per game.

“(Dalton) is definitely the guy who lead us,” Braatz said. “Going through a slump, he’s the guy that will take us out of it. He’s just an amazing athlete and an amazing player.”

Dalton has been playing varsity since he was a freshman. All he ever wanted to do was leave the program better than he found it.

“The biggest thing for me is just making sure I give the kids that are coming up in the program motivation in life, be better and have successful teams,” he said. “That’s the biggest thing.”

Head coach Nicholas Ford, took the reins of the program when Dalton was a freshman and he credits Ford for a lot of the team's success.

“I mean, he means everything to me,” said Dalton. “He’s helped me a lot in life. I can't even explain it, to be honest. It’s crazy, I love him so much.”Things are going up now since we got coach Ford. He changed the program, changing the community up. Basketball definitely got better for the city of Fond Du Lac.”

And now for the seniors who have been through it all, they want to ride this season out for as long as they can.

“We want to keep this going as long as we can. I think if we just keep bringing our ‘A’ game and come out strong at the beginning of games – I think we can keep it going,” Braatz said.

Up next for Fond Du Lac, they have a tough game at Oshkosh North who is 2nd in the conference on Friday.