Appleton North ends losing streak and is looking for more

Appleton North boys hoops.jpg
The Appleton North boys basketball team ended its long losing streak earlier this season. (WLUK)

APPLETON (WLUK) -- The Appleton North boys basketball team is starting new this season with a new coach and already the Lightning is looking different.

After losing every game last season, North won its first game in 22 months, beating Fox Valley Lutheran last week.

New coach Chris Kellett is trying to change the culture at North and getting the first win is a step.

"It means a lot, it was huge for us as we know what we're trying to do and we know how we want to get there, so it was a good stepping stone," senior Kyle Hammen said.

"It was pretty exciting," senior Luke Van Handel said. "We haven't won a game in two years, so it was really good for the program."

North had lost 32 straight games as its last win was Jan. 27, 2017, a 71-60 win over Appleton East. As good as beating FVL felt, now the goal for the Lightning is to win again.

"We're like, OK, it was sweet," Hammen said. "It was a good win. I would say it kind of motivates us when you see everybody else with success and we're kind of lacking there."

After beating FVL, North was handled by East earlier this week 64-29. The players said it was a learning experience.

Kellett said the key to winning ist first game in 22 months was having the players buy into what his staff is coaching.

"We played as hard as we could, we had less than 10 turnovers; we were taking great shoots, not good shots," he said. "And good things happen when you do those things."

Kellett was the interim men's coach last season at Lawrence University and prior to that he was at Shawano. He knew taking over the North program was going to be a challenge, but he was OK with that.

"It's definitely a challenging experience," he said. "Every other sport here is successful and for whatever reason basketball, ever since I've been around the FVA (Fox Valley Association), the early 2000s, late 90s has not been up to par with the other athletic teams.

"Fresh blood is in here to kind of change some things around and hopefully they buy in and compete, play hard and play the right way."

With one win already, expect the Lightning to strike again.

Follow Doug Ritchay in Twitter @dougritchay