Last season, La Crosse was the center of high school hoops in Wisconsin. Where's that talent this year?

"I think it's on the football field," joked Onalaska Head Coach Craig Kowal.

Gone are Matt Thomas and Bronson Koenig, leaving big holes for their former teams: Onalaska and Aquinas.

"It's not easy, but I think we'll do fine," said Aquinas senior forward Parker Weber. "We have a lot of last year junior/seniors that I think will be able to step up and it'll be hard to replace the best passer in the state and an excellent shooter, but I think we'll be able to do it.

"You can't really replace a guy like Matt Thomas. His skills are unparalleled and we're just going to have to come together as a team," said Connor Gavin, Ona's only returning starter.

"Every year is a new team, and we talk about that all the time, you know even coming off a state championship, these guys here today want to do something special," Aquinas Head Coach Rick Schneider said.

"That's the beauty of coaching high school, is it's a new challenge each and every year and each and every day, and our goal is to maximize the potential of this team," Kowal said.

Even without two division one basketball players, coaches are banking on a strong Mississippi Valley Conference.

"The MVC, obviously we lose two premier players like that, it's going to take a little bit of a hit. But there's still some very, very good athletes in this conference," Kowal said.

"Maybe we're not where we were a year ago, but we still have really good teams," Schneider said. "I think it's going to be another really good year for the MVC."

Scrimmages and games begin next week.