OSHKOSH (NBC 26) — After having a very talented team last year, the Oshkosh North Spartans didn’t live up to their expectations getting upset in the first round of playoffs by Appleton West.
Now the core of their team is another year older and their expectations go far beyond getting bounced out of the postseason early on.
“I don't think one day in the summer went by (where) I don't think about that loss,” said senior point guard Steve Clark. “Overall that loss, it was hard, but we just used that as fuel and stuff this summer. Just got after it.”
The 1-0 Spartans may be ranked a preseason top-five Division 1 team, but they couldn't care less.
“Rankings don’t really matter to us,” said junior forward Xzavion Mitchell. “We’re always gonna do the same thing as we always have been doing.”
Senior guard Stevie Clark committed to Colgate and Mitchell, who has NCAA D-1 offers, both led the team in scoring last year and make for one of the most formidable duos in the state. Mitchell dropped 30 points and Clark had 20 in their season-opening win over another top-10 team, Kaukauna, on the road.
“It's great to play with him,” said Mitchell. “He’s a great player, to have him by my side is something special. We can definitely do something special together and we can lead this group and hopefully do special things.”
The thing that makes those two so good, they’re in the gym so much the coaching staff has to kick them out.
“When you’ve got that – when those two work the way they work, the ceiling gets really high for them but it also does for our team,” said Spartans head coach Brad Weber.
The two are trying to lead the program back to Madison in order to get their first title in six years. Pacers star Tyrese Haliburton was on that squad.
“When you’ve got one of your own that’s living that dream, it just makes it that more achievable,” Weber said of Haliburton.
Haliburton is in constant contact with some of the team and gives guidance where he can.
“He tells us all the time, like we just gotta keep working as a group and find ways to build off each other and just always stay positive,” said Mitchell. “That’s the main thing for how he got to where he is.”
Now, they hope to take that advice and run with it to a title.
“We have one goal in mind and that’s to go to the state championship and win the state title. We don’t care about FVA (conference) championships, it would be cool to have, but we want that state title,” said Mitchell.
Next up for the 1-0 Spartans, they’ll head on the road to take on crosstown rival Oshkosh West this Friday.