Jeremiah Pfaff is no stranger to New Lisbon basketball.
The first-year head coach, who graduated from New Lisbon High School in 1997, played for the Rockets the last time they won a conference title. Now, he will be tasked with overseeing a program that has struggled to find success in recent years.
Over the last seven seasons, New Lisbon has posted a 35-119 record overall, including an 18-80 against Scenic Bluffs Conference competition. During that stretch, they have finished no higher than sixth in the conference standings. The Rockets have not finished with a record above .500 overall or in SBC play since the 2009-10 season, when they made a run all the way to the sectional semifinals.
Pfaff most recently coached youth basketball in New Lisbon for the last six years and also coached junior varsity girls’ basketball and junior high basketball at Wonewoc-Center in the past. Pfaff is in his 14th year teaching in New Lisbon and 17th year teaching overall.
He knows the task of turning the program around won’t be an easy one, but believes long-term success can be had by building through youth programs.
“I think the key is developing a strong youth program,” Pfaff said. “I’ve coached three of my sons youth teams and we had 54 youth players at our first practice three Saturdays ago. So I think getting the numbers up and actually having youth teams are going to be the key.”
But the first order of business for Pfaff and the Rockets will be improving from a 4-19 overall record and a 1-13 mark in conference play from last year. Among the returning players from last season’s team is junior guard Cody Haschke, who was an all-conference first-team selection.
Haschke averaged 15.1 points, 7.3 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 2.5 steals per game for New Lisbon last year.
“He’s a playmaker,” Pfaff said of Haschke. “He’s a good shooter, he’s really hard to guard in the open court, he’s got really quick hands on defense and we’re just looking for him to be more of a vocal leader as we go along.”
Haschke will be part of a relatively young starting lineup which also includes junior guard Jared Dvorak, junior guard Holden Rydmark, sophomore forward Colton Zellmer and senior guard Zach Loew, who did not play last season.
Given where the program is at and the youth of his team, Pfaff is keeping expectations reasonable and remains focused on improvement the Rockets can build on moving forward.
“My goal is to be competitive,” he said. “I have no delusions of winning conference or anything like that. I would like to be in the middle of the pack. If we are .500 or close to it, I think that’s a good season to build on.”
New Lisbon won’t be back to contending for conference titles overnight, but lifting itself from the basement of the Scenic Bluffs standings would be a good place to start.