Posted On: 10/26/18 10:00 AM

Photo credit: West Central Tribune

Willmar was one of the best teams in the state last season but ran into the buzzsaw that was Calvin Wishart and the Delano Tigers in the section tournament. Don’t expect the Cardinals to suffer a big dropoff though because they’ve got a talented core of players back. The best of the bunch might be Ty Roelofs.

Roelofs averaged 9.5 points per game as a junior and will be looking to produce more as the Cardinals attempt to fill in the gaps left by departed senior Noah Slagter. He spent the AAU season playing with Southwest Minnesota Stars where he had a chance to run a team and play with and against terrific players on a regular basis.

“Playing with the stars over the years has made it seem like a family,” said Roelofs. “They are a great group of guys and my coaches were awesome. We had a lot of fun on and off the court. I’m thankful for the opportunity to play at a high level of basketball. I love the challenge and it consistently pushed me to become a better player.”

Roelofs – really every returning player for Willmar – will take on a larger role on both ends of the floor this winter. He’s a solid facilitator and at his best when he’s getting into gaps and creating looks for his teammates. He may put up more points this winter, but his style of play won’t change drastically.

“I worked on my ability to find the open man and keep my entire team involved in the game a lot this summer,” said Roelofs. “I love defense and will be looking to use my perimeter jumper more often this season too.”

The senior guard has drawn quite a bit of college interst and is in the process of narrowing down his list of potential schools.

Willmar will likely go into the season ranked in the top-five in Class AAA. Despite Slager’s graduation, the expectations will still be high for this team. Roelofs goals for his team reflect those beliefs.

“My goal for our team is to make it to state and make the most out of our season,” Roelofs said.