Safar steps up to provide additional scoring

Brock Halbach sizes up a Waterford defender last season. The 6-foot-7 center has the ability to dominate inside. (Rick Benavides/SLN)

 

By Mike Ramczyk

sports@southernlakesnewspapers.com

Though the sharpshooting abilities of Luke Geiger are now on display at UW-Stout, his backcourt buddy from last year, Nick Klug, is back and ready to finish a storied career with a strong senior season.

But while the star power is the shiny object, the Burlington boys basketball team’s overall cohesiveness and chemistry will be the biggest factors of whether the Demons can capture their first Southern Lakes Conference championship since 2013.

Back then, teams led by Travis Crayton and Carson Biedrzycki won three straight titles from 2011 to ’13, and this year Klug will be the unquestioned top star.

A recent commit to play college basketball at Division 2 Winona State University, the 6-foot point guard is coming off a successful football season that saw the Demons finish 6-4 and make the playoffs.

Klug needs a mere 40 points to become the school’s all-time leading scorer, as he’s dazzled at the 1 spot since freshman year.

Klug’s 21 points and eight rebounds, along with a career-high 26 from Sean Safar, led the Demons to the program’s first win over Racine Case Nov. 24, 70-68.

Nick Webley added 13 points.

Along with Klug (football), Safar (baseball) and Webley (football), the Demons boast a ton of athletes that have had team success in other sports.

Head coach Steve Berezowitz, now in his 23rd season, downplayed the fact that other conference coaches are calling Burlington the favorite.

His focus is on improving each day, and he’s excited about a deep group of multi-sport athletes.

“We have a lot of kids with varsity experience,” he said. “That should allow us to be more consistent on both ends of the floor.”

“Consistent post play is a concern, as well as being able to shoot consistently from the 3-point line. We need to improve our overall defensive effort.”

 

Athletes everywhere

Berezowitz lauds the return of Klug, who should battle for All-Area player of the year after averaging 19 points, 4 rebounds and 2.5 assists as a junior, but he mostly looks forward to bringing all of the talent together as one.

“It is great to have the experience Nick brings to a team, however, we have a group of kids that bring a variety of experiences together,” Berezowitz said. “Many of these guys have had success not only in basketball but other sports as well. I am just excited to see us develop together.”

A senior who has developed quickly is Safar, a 6-foot-1 guard who barely saw playing time as a junior.

Without a true role, he averaged 1.5 points last season.

In the season opener, Safar went off, hitting two triples and all six of his free throws, along with seven buckets from the field for 26 points.

“Sean’s role always seemed to be dictated by other things last season. He has really worked hard at his game, as well as improving his strength so I’m excited he is off to a great start.”

In order to repeat or best last year’s 15-9 record and 11-3 second-place mark in the SLC, Burlington will lean on experience and backcourt quickness.

Joining Klug and Safar at guard are returners Grant Tully, Reid Lang and Ben McDermit.

Returning in the frontcourt are forwards Drew Pesick and Brock Halbach, who has grown 1 inch and now stands 6-foot-7.

Also factoring into the equation will be newcomers Trent Turzenski, a 6-foot-6 junior forward, and junior guards Webley and Trey Krause.

Joining Berezowitz on the coaching staff are Brad Ferstenou, Tom Dummer, Jack Schmidt and Matt Wolff.

 

Schedule

(HOME GAMES ALL CAPS)

December – 5: at Kenosha Bradford. 8: UNION GROVE. 15: at Lake Geneva Badger. 19: at Waterford. 22: DELAVAN-DARIEN. 29: Sentry Classic at UW-Stevens Point. January – 5: WILMOT. 9: at Westosha Central. 16: at Waukesha North. 19: ELKHORN. 20: KENOSHA TREMPER. 23: at Mukwonago. 26: BADGER. 30: at Union Grove. February – 2: WATERFORD. 5: JANESVILLE CRAIG. 8: at Wilmot. 13: WESTOSHA CENTRAL. 16: at Delavan-Darien. 22: at Elkhorn.

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