Eau Claire (WQOW) -- Eau Claire Memorial & Eau Claire North are both looking to contend in the Big Rivers Conference boys basketball race.
Memorial won its season opener Saturday at New Richmond, by a final of 51-37. The Old Abes jumped out to a 17-4 lead and never looked back. Head coach Greg Van Grunsven says he has an experienced squad, which helps expand the playbook early in the season.
"We've been able to extend a lot of the drills and the skills," says Van Grunsven, "just their familiarity with me over the last couple of years and being at our practices. We've got a really intelligent team. All of our players do really well academically in the classroom, so we're hoping that we can play that to our advantage as well and so some multiple things this year on the floor."
"With returning a lot of guys, we have a lot of experience," says Memorial senior guard/forward Alex Grant, "and we're able to jump into the flow of things right away and that's helped out so far."
Memorial's second game is Friday, as the Old Abes will host Onalaska in a non-conference matchup.
North has played one game, losing at home by 14 to Mississippi Valley Conference favorite Holmen. Huskies head coach Aric Carpenter says even though he has a number of regulars back from last season, the guys need to find ways to improve.
"We need to be very good defensively and we need to rebound very well," says Carpenter, "I think our advantages are in our length and our size and we have to find a way to make that work against each of the opponents that we play. That's a process that will take time, but in the end, that's a recipe for good basketball in February and that's where we hope to get."
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