Northern Star: Sam Risley
For this week's segment, we feature a Northwestern boys basketball player who is leading the Tigers to success.
MAPLE, Wis. – After going 12–12 last year, the Northwestern boys basketball team has been dominate this year. The Tigers are currently undefeated in conference play and ranked in the top 10 in division three within the state.
“We’re about 10, 11 guys deep that I can play at any single time in any single game and that’s a luxury to have,” head coach Nolan Graff said.
While the Tigers have depth this year, a major part of their success is senior Sam Risley. Risley leads the team in points, averaging 16.7 points per game. But Risley has been even more dominate in three pointers, making 48 percent of his attempts, which leads the state for all division three players.
“If it’s open I’m going to take it. I’m not too worried about a range, if I’m open, it’s a pretty good shot. My teammates, they set me screens, they get me the ball. Just, like earlier, it’s like taking game shots, after practice, during practice, anytime you can, just keep repping it and it will go in,” Risley said.
The practice time that Risley has put in this year is paying off and is rubbing off on the rest of the team.
“You hear the term ‘gym rat’ and things like that, guys that sleep in the gym. But when you say that, I could say that about Sam and it’s literal. And it carries a long ways when your best player, the guy that’s leading your team in scoring, is constantly in the gym, it kind of sends a message to the rest of the team,” Graff said.
While his positive actions on the court are impacting his teammates, Risley has also found his voice within the team.
“I’d say I’m more vocal this year, try to lead by example and we just have a lot of great leaders on this team,” Risley said.
“Sam’s really taken the role on his shoulders and hasn’t looked back. And he’s took the command of everything, including this team. If we need a basket, a player to make a certain play at the end of the game, defensively, offensively, he’s our guy right now,” Graff said.
As one of eight seniors on the team, Risley hopes they can continue what they have going right now. With just four regular season games left, the Tigers have a chance to do what the football team did a few months ago and take it to the next level: finish undefeated in conference play and make it to state.
“State title’s always the goal. And it’d be huge and we’ve all been working hard and that’s our team goal, always is,” Risley said.