It was supposed to be a much different outlook for the Whitefish Bay boys basketball team this recently completed season.
Scoring capability and experience were available from the WIAA Division 2 sectional finalists of last season, and young potential was available to try and fill in the gaps.
Only the scoring capability and experience largely vanished as top returnee senior guard David Thompson was unavailable for all but one game due to grades, and senior guard Xavier Johnson missed the last seven games because of a rules violation.
That left the Blue Dukes with only two seniors, Tommy Vellon and Gunnar Stock, and a lot of unproven talent. The result was a tough, tough finish for Bay, as it dropped its last eight games and 10 of its last 11.
Second-year coach Chris Millner tried to put a fresh coat of paint on the dingy finish as many young players got a lot of experience down the stretch in an 8-15 campaign.
"The group we had by the end of the season was a great group of guys," he said. "The majority of them were freshmen and sophomores who were able to get better and work hard. The way we looked at it, we were looking for little victories in terms of guys getting better. We were able to chart a lot of individual improvement and that's a huge positive going forward."
The Blue Dukes' campaign ended with an overtime loss to Milwaukee Lutheran in a WIAA Division 2 regional game.
"This was tough; we came into the season with one idea of how the roster would be and finished it with entirely another idea," Millner said, "We lost two 20-point-a-game scorers, but guys took on different roles, and they got better down the stretch. We were able to try different things, work in a zone defense. In the end, though, we just had trouble handling pressure (defenses)."
Bay's last win came on Jan. 31 with an 84-60 North Shore win over Port Washington.
A bright spot on the season was the work of second-team All-North Shore Conference sophomore guard Demetrius Johnson, who averaged 14.5 ppg., hitting 88 of 115 free throws (77 percent). He got good help from junior guard Cade Garcia (10 ppg. including 36 3-pointers) and freshman guard Harry Grams, who averaged 8.3 ppg., including 20 3-pointers.
Demetrius Johnson played with energy and intensity and has great potential, Millner said.
Garcia was honorable mention all-conference.
Millner also said the freshmen and junior varsity teams had solid campaigns considering that he had to pull up several athletes due to a depleted varsity roster. He said those groups have a tremendous work ethic, and that bodes well for the future.