With a day of rest to recharge the batteries, here are some observations from the seventh annual Wisconsin Basketball Yearbook Shootout, held Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday at the Buuck Field House on the campus of Concordia University in Mequon:
This year, in a nod to the all-important three-point shot and resurging 1-3-1 zone defense, we will break down the WBY Shootout in groups of three.
Three Standout Individuals
Zak Showalter, 6-2, WG, Sr., Germantown
Showalter may have turned in the most impressive individual showing of the event when he pumped in 28 points in the Warhawks’ 60-49 victory over De Pere. He scored 15 points in the opening period, setting the tone for the rest of the way and making the Redbirds play from behind against the state’s top-ranked team. Showalter knocked down four triples against De Pere, but more importantly, his mental and physical toughness, along with his competitive edge, make Germantown the team to beat for the WIAA Division 1 state championship.
Matt Thomas, 6-4, WG, Jr., Onalaska
Without a doubt, Thomas is the best long-distance shooter in the state. His pure stroke was on full display during the Hilltoppers’ victories over Oshkosh North and Sun Prairie. He scored 27 against Oshkosh North, including nine in the pivotal fourth period that turned a 41-38 deficit into a 59-51 victory. He followed up that sterling showing by making six-of-seven shots and scoring 17 points in the first half against Sun Prairie, triggering a dominating 40-12 halftime lead over the Cardinals. Thomas has grown an inch or two over the past 12 months and is clearly one of the elite collegiate prospects in Wisconsin.
Duane Wilson, 6-3, PG, Jr., Whitefish Bay Dominican
Duane (Will To Win) Wilson could very well be the hottest collegiate prospect in the state right now. After watching Wilson lead Dominican to a pair of overtime victories over Lodi and Wisconsin Lutheran, it’s easy to see why the athletic and ever-improving point guard has scholarship offers from Marquette, Memphis, Missouri and Tennessee, among others. He simply refuses to lose and makes big plays on both ends of the court. His quickness and athletic ability allow him to get past defenders on offense, and his quick hands created plenty of deflections on the other end of the court. An improved perimeter shooter, Wilson made clutch three-point shots in both comeback victories for the Knights.
Three Sleepers To Watch
C.J. Polk, 5-11, Soph., G, Wisconsin Lutheran
Along with seniors Chris Golden and Emilio Lopez, Polk plays in the talented backcourt for coach Ryan Walz at Wisconsin Lutheran. His quickness and fearless nature were impressive in the Vikings’ victory over Milwaukee Marquette and overtime loss to Dominican. He pumped in 14 points off the bench to help Wisconsin Lutheran earn the triumph over Marquette.
Daymeann Stewart, 5-9, PG, Soph., St. Thomas More
A quick lead guard with outstanding ball-handling ability, Stewart came off the bench for coach Pat Ross in the Cavaliers’ 64-58 loss to Catholic Memorial. He scored 15 points in that game and earned a starting spot in St. Thomas More’s next outing – a 68-58 victory over Manitowoc Roncalli. Stewart finished with 11 points against Roncalli and made five-of-six attempts from the foul line in the second half.
Cory Vaassen, 6-3, F, Sr., Cuba City
Vaassen led Cuba City to its convincing 73-64 victory over Sheboygan Lutheran by playing exceptionally well on both offense and defense. He scored 24 points, hit a three-pointer and threw down a thunderous dunk in transition while also sparking the Cubans’ highly effective 1-3-1 zone defense on defense. Vaassen is a physically strong wing player with excellent shooting range, solid athleticism and a great desire to lead his team to victories.
Three Freshmen To Watch
Brevin Pritzl, 6-3, WG, De Pere
The younger brother of former De Pere standout Brandon Pritzl (now playing at Hillsdale College), Brevin Pritzl came off the bench for the Redbirds and played quality minutes for one of the top Division 1 schools in the state. He scored five points in a victory over Arrowhead and added four in the loss to Germantown. His size and ability to make perimeter shots will be huge assets for coach Brian Winchester over the next four years.
Nick Noskowiak, 6-1, WG, Sun Prairie
Noskowiak was very, very impressive for coach Jeff Boos and Sun Prairie. He started and scored 18 points in a victory over Oconomowoc. He scored the majority of those points in the second period, leading Sun Prairie to a commanding 51-22 halftime lead. In a 56-36 loss to Onalaska, Noskowiak was the lone Sun Prairie player to reach double figures with 11. Noskowiak displayed excellent athleticism, the ability to move without the basketball and tremendous confidence for such a young player.
Diamond Stone, 6-9, C, Whitefish Bay Dominican
Extremely impressive. That’s about the only way to describe the play of Stone, a 14-year-old post player who many already believe is a can’t miss high-major NCAA Division I prospect. Stone made mid-range jump shots, used his physical strength and length to score with his back-to-the-basket and made foul shots. He is a willing passer, a good shot blocker and a physical presence in the lane. Equally impressive was his demeanor on and off the court. Stone scored 12 of his 16 points in the second half to help Dominican rally from a 40-24 halftime deficit to a 70-60 overtime victory against Wisconsin Lutheran.
Top Three Teams
The Warhawks have it all in terms of size, talent, experience and depth. What separates Germantown from others, though, is its toughness and desire to win and win big. Seniors Josh Mongan, Zak Showalter, Dan Studer and Zack Kumbier, along with junior Luke Fischer, form a rock-solid nucleus for coach Steve Showalter. All of those players, not to mention talented sophomores Jake Showalter, Jon Averkamp and Evan Wesenberg, figure to play at the next level. But first, they have some unfinished business to attend to, namely, winning the WIAA Division 1 state championship. They are on a mission and playing that way.
Though the Redbirds lost to Germantown to sustain their first loss of the year, De Pere once again has a squad capable of making a deep run in March. Seniors Brett VandenBergh and Jordan Poydras, along with juniors Adam Beyer and Spencer Mocarski, were key players on last year’s team that lost in triple overtime to Madison Memorial in the Division 1 state final. They are talented and tough enough to make a return trip to the Kohl Center, though they most likely will need to get past Germantown in an anticipated rematch in the sectional final.
The Hilltoppers had two devastating injuries a year ago to forwards Nick Arenz and Tony Thomas that prevented them from advancing to the state tournament. Arenz is back playing while Thomas is taking a redshirt year at Viterbo University in La Crosse. Arenz may not be at 100 percent quite yet, but he turned in very strong showings in Onalaska’s two victories. The Green Bay recruit and 6-foot-8 forward gives coach Craig Kowal excellent size in the post and Arenz’s ability to either make mid-range jump shots or find open teammates is vital to the Hilltoppers’ success. Matt Thomas, Clint Rihn, Ben Socha and Zach Schmidt also play key roles for Onalaska, currently ranked No. 1 in Division 2.
Three Other Teams to Watch
The Lions are an entertaining team to watch because of the way they defend, share the basketball and play with energy and spirit. Brillion won 21 games a year ago and advanced to the Division 3 State Tournament two years ago. More success is headed their way in 2011-12 behind the return of seniors Trevor Krizenesky, Blake Klessig and Ryan Reinke, along with junior Eric Kittel. Brillion’s absolute dominance of perennial powerhouse Racine St. Catherine’s served notice that the Lions are definitely one of the elite teams in Division 3.
Coach Jerry Petitgoue has now surpassed 800 victories for his long coaching career and he may have one of his better teams in his 40 years at Cuba City. Like Germantown, Cuba City appears to be on a mission and that is definitely not good news for opponents in the Southwest Activities League. Vaassen, Zachary Adams, Nathan Murray, Trent Denlinger, Brandon Slaats, Griffin Eckhardt and Jason Derby form a solid nucleus for the Cubans, who appear to be on a collision course with Dominican for the Division 4 state championship. Cuba City’s 1-3-1 zone defense limited Sheboygan Lutheran senior and Wisconsin recruit Sam Dekker to just 13 points, 22 below his average of 35 ppg.
Whitefish Bay Dominican
The Knights have plenty of firepower with Wilson (pictured), Stone, Jamall Taylor and Breon Jordan all capable of reaching double figures on any given night. In addition to the Big Four, Dominican got solid contributions from Sam Starke, Patrick Feldmeier, Jack Jelacic and Connor Schwartz. Dominican has quickness, size, depth and outstanding talent, traits that coach Paul Wollersheim will utilize in the Knights’ quest to reach the Division 4 State Tournament.
And Three More Teams To Watch
Those who didn’t know much about Lodi prior to the WBY Shootout came away highly impressed with the Blue Devils. Lodi played an outstanding game against Dominican and appeared to have the Knights beat until Wilson and Co. made a couple of huge plays late to force overtime. Lodi then beat Milwaukee Marquette to go 1-1 against quality competition. The Blue Devils have excellent guard play behind Jordan Shea, Kris Seffrood and Brady Moses, and strong post play with Dan Padley, Jacob Haag and swingman John Hatch. This is definitely a team to watch come playoff time.
Few teams play man-to-man defense better than Racine Lutheran, which has an experienced core of players led by seniors Peter Drummond, Neko Graf, Ty Demuth, Tyler Naegeli and Jared Kosmala, along with junior Clay Stevens. Racine Lutheran defeated Sheboygan Lutheran and Oshkosh Lourdes in the WBY Shootout with the Randolph coaching staff paying close attention. Smart move by coach Bob Haffele and Co. as the Crusaders and Rockets appear destined for a sectional final showdown between the state’s top two Division 5 teams.
The Red Raiders may not have as much pure talent as some of the other teams in the Greater Metro Conference, but their grit and determination will keep them in games throughout the season. Coach Tim Arndorfer has a big shot maker in junior Anthony Carroll and a couple of hard-nosed competitors in seniors Vince Cupertino and Zak Sylvester.
WBY Shootout All-Tournament Team
Nick Arenz, 6-8, Sr., Onalaska
Sam Dekker, 6-8, Sr., Sheboygan Lutheran
Peter Drummond, 5-11, Sr., Racine Lutheran
Jordan Fouse, 6-6, Sr., Racine St. Catherine’s
Chris Golden, 6-1, Jr., Wisconsin Lutheran
Josh Mongan, 5-10, Sr., Germantown
Nick Noskowiak, 6-1, Frosh., Sun Prairie
Zak Showater, 6-2, Sr., Germantown
Diamond Stone, 6-9, Frosh., Dominican
Tag(s): WBY Shootout