The boys basketball season ended March 15 at Madison where the state tournament was held and while there was plenty of action this season, the biggest disappointment was no team captured a gold ball.
The area sent down Neenah, West De Pere, Roncalli, Brillion and N.E.W. Lutheran — one school in each division — and the teams came back with two silver balls, which was good to see.
That doesn’t take away what type of season it was in the area, however. It’s always entertaining and with that in mind here’s a look back at the season:
Neenah pushes Germantown
Nobody gave Neenah a chance to beat Germantown in the D1 state final, but the Rockets pushed the two-time defending state champs to the end. Trailing 46-42 late, Neenah buried a 3-pointer to get within one point, but referees ruled traveling on the play.
The call was correct, but what would the last 10 seconds have been if that shot counted? Neenah lost two games all season and proved as a worthy opponent for the-now three-time defending state champs.
N.E.W. stunned in title game
N.E.W. Lutheran entered the regular season as the favorite to win the D5 state title and going into Championship Saturday there was no reason to believe the Blazers wouldn’t win their first WIAA title.
However, a 9-loss Thorp team stunned everybody, maybe even itself, with a 49-42 win. The Blazers went back-to-back, but not in the form most talk about. N.E.W. settled for its second straight silver ball, which is a good accomplishment, but just a little bit of a disappointment after winning 27 of the previous 28 games.
Seymour looked like a D2 state title contender all season until a jump shot by West De Pere’s Cody Schwartz. Dakota Oskey defended Schwartz on a shot in the final regular season game and twisted his ankle badly when he came down to the floor.
Oskey missed one postseason game and played in two others, but clearly wasn’t his explosive self. Oskey’s injury changed Seymour’s chances of reaching state and opened the door for others, if capable of taking advantage.
West De Pere’s run
The team that took advantage of Oskey’s injury was Schwartz’s. The Phantoms beat Seymour in a sectional semifinal after losing twice to the Thunder during the regular season and clinched their first trip to state since 1933.
West De Pere fell to eventual state champ Wisconsin Lutheran, but the Phantoms also had an injury to deal with. Point guard Jesse Owens tore his ACL in February, but shifting Chandler Diekvoss from guard/forward to point guard proved wise by coach Andy Werner as Diekvoss’ ability to create and shoot off the dribble made West De Pere quite dangerous.
Roncalli can shoot
Every team knew when it played the Jets it would have to guard the 3-point line like its life depended on it and most teams didn’t survive that challenge.
Roncalli qualified for the D3 state tournament with the likes of Josh Erickson and Nick Stelzer scoring from “downtown” as the Jets averaged about nine made 3-pointers per game. While Roncalli lost 48-45 to Brown Deer in a state semifinal, its marksmanship was always impressive.
- Dunks at Seymour: Go to a game with Seymour involved and it was almost a guarantee Oskey and Sandy Cohen would be entertaining the crowd with dunks. The senior duo were high flyers and always fun to watch, even below the rim. It won’t be the same next season without those two playing, although opposing coaches are quite pleased.
- N.E.W.’s dynamic duo: Dakota Zinser from the outside and Nathan Toenjes from the inside. At the D5 level, there was not a better inside-outside combo. Zinser could hit the three and drive by any defender, while Toenjes just outmanned players inside. Don’t see combos like this too often at this level.
- Point guards: Neenah’s Adam Pohlman and Oshkosh North’s Nate Neveau were awesome to watch run an offense. Both were clever in getting other playyers shots and always could create for their own shot. Their playmaking ability was second to none.
- D.J. DeValk: Little Chute’s point guard had to wait for Turner Botz, Kenneth Lowe and Mitch Ciske to graduate, and without them this season DeValk shined. The Eastern Valley player of the year could get any shot whenever and that was obvious in a sectional final when he scored 36 in a loss to Roncalli.
Watch out for who next year?
- Ripon: Coach Dean Vander Plas has freshmen Luke Loewe and son Bennett Vander Plas who are well ahead of schedule. The Tigers almost made state this year and another year of experience will make Ripon a team to watch next season.
- Neenah: The Rockets lose their backcourt in Pohlman and Taulvish McCray, but have basically everything else returning, including Heldt. The Rockets likely will be FOX 11’s preseason No. 1-ranked team next season as more success is expected,.
- Seymour: Yes, the Thunder lost two great high school players but coach Jon Murphy told me this past season he likes his team coming back for next season. There won’t be a Cohen or Oskey, but there are players capable like Brayden Wilinski who can shoot. And it’s Seymour. Like Murphy won’t have a good team.
- West De Pere: Diekvoss is gone but guess who isn’t: Schwartz and underrated Connor Konshak. This duo make this team capable of reaching Madison next season, and they might take over for Cohen and Oskey and be a dunking duo. They can get up.
With the season more than over, here’s the final FOX 11 Top 11 for boys basketball:
BOYS FOX 11 Top 11 (final)
1. Neenah (26-2): Rockets fell short in D1 state title game to Germantown.
2. West De Pere (22-5): Phantoms make first state tournament since 1933.
3. N.E.W. Lutheran (27-2): Blazers surprisingly fall in D5 state title game to Thorp.
4. Roncalli (25-2): Jets shoot themselves into D3 state tournament.
5. Lourdes Academy (25-1): Only loss of season comes to eventual D4 state champ Dominican in sectional final.
6. Seymour (23-2): Thunder’s postseason affected by Dakota Oskey’s ankle injury.
7. Ashwaubenon (20-4): Jaguars’ season cut short by West De Pere in regionals.
8. Ripon (21-6): Tigers make great run but fall to eventual D3 state champ Brown Deer in sectional final.
9. Oshkosh North (20-4): Spartans’ loss in regional final ended quest of three straight state tournament appearances.
10. Brillion (18-9): Lions’ first trip to state in D4 ends with loss to Dominican in semifinal.
11. Peshtigo (22-2): Bulldogs piece together one of the better regular seasons in the area.
Follow Doug Ritchay on Twitter @dougritchay