Southern Lakes Newspapers All Area Basketball

Kenosha County, SLC lead 3rd annual best of best

 

Union Grove senior Jack Pettit (far right) drives to the hoop against Westosha Central. Pettit, the SLC player of the year, earned player of the year consideration. (Earlene Frederick/SLN)

 

By Mike Ramczyk

sports@southernlakesnewspapers.com

Let the bizarre reign.

While most All-Area basketball teams keep the conventional five players on a first or second team, we here at Southern Lakes Newspapers are once again looking at the best 14 players in four counties, like we did last week with the girls, and allowing the rest to fall in place.

Editor Jason Arndt, sports writers Chris Bennett, Dan Truttschel, Tim Wester, Kevin Cunningham, Daniel Schoettler, Troy Sparks, Michael Hoey, Dana Ehrmann and I formed an expert panel, breaking down the best players from our coverage area, which includes 16 schools.

We did not discriminate based on size of school, competition or where players landed on their all-conference squad.

More importantly, the eye test, statistics, team performance, clutch play and the ability to lift teammates were all factored in.

Which player has that certain “it” factor?

Who do you want taking the last shot at the end of the game?

And who elevated their play in the postseason and catapulted an above average team to extraordinary levels?

After about a month of emails, phone conversations and internal bickering back and forth, it’s finally time to reveal the third annual Southern Lakes Newspapers All-Area boys basketball team.

We had two state qualifiers, Westosha Central in Division 2 and East Troy in Division 3.

Union Grove won the Southern Lakes Conference with a 19-5 record, Palmyra-Eagle won the Trailways South at 18-4 and Mukwonago finished the season 16-8.

I’d like to give a special shout out to Burlington senior Nick Klug.

The dynamic point guard, who donned our first team in 2017 and was sure to challenge for player of the year this season, was forced to miss most of the season with leg injuries.

Though he only played four games, Klug broke Burlington’s all-time scoring record, previously held by 1998 graduate and former NFL star quarterback Tony Romo.

Klug’s absence paved the way for probably our most unconventional team yet, as the first team has a junior and sophomore.

For the first time, an underclassman, Westosha Central junior Jaeden Zackery, brings home the top prize, while the overall talent in this year’s team didn’t jump off the page.

As of now, no player will be playing Division I college basketball, but a few will get a chance at the next level.

Please follow us on Facebook (SLN Racine County, Burlington Standard Press, SLN Walworth County, SLN Kenosha County) and Twitter (@mikeramczyk17, @thejasonarndt), and let us know what you think of this year’s team with a comment.

You also can visit our websites, www.myracinecounty.com, www.mywalworthcounty.com and www.mykenoshacountry.com, to weigh in your thoughts and give us your team.

Sit back, grab a cold beverage, relax your mind and enjoy our third installment of the SLN All-Area boys basketball squad.

 

Player of the year

Jaeden Zackery, junior, Westosha Central

Nobody sparked the Falcons’ first state tournament run quite like the explosive, 6-foot-3 shooting guard.

He was so good in the postseason, Zackery earned himself a spot on the Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association All-State team after hanging move by move with Mr. Basketball Jordan McCabe of Kaukauna, the eventual state champions.

Zackery can do whatever he wants on the court, and his speed from foul line to foul line is breathtaking.

His huge second half sparked a comeback victory in a sectional semifinal against Elkhorn, and his sheer athleticism and tenacity on both ends of the court helped the Falcons dismantle the state’s second-ranked team, Monona Grove, for a blowout win in the sectional final.

Zackery perhaps saved his best for Madison, when he put Westosha on his back and cut a second-half lead to six before the team simply ran out of gas.

The Southern Lakes Conference and Kenosha County first team selection got stronger as the stakes grew, with 15, 20 and 21 in his final three games.

Zackery averaged 17 points, 3.7 assists, 4.7 rebounds and a whopping 3.7 steals per contest.

In the open floor, he can finish with the best, and his court vision allows him to hit the open man for the best look.

At state, Zackery demonstrated a 15-foot jump shot, which should evolve beyond the arc his senior season.

He didn’t shoot a ton of triples, but connected on 25-of-70 for a solid 35 percent.

“Jaeden is a skilled guard who can score from anywhere on the court,” said coach James Hyllberg. “He has great court awareness and finishes strong to the basket. He is equally gifted on the defensive side. Jaeden has exceptional quickness and anticipates ball movement, which allows him to pick up steals. He is a hard worker and great teammate. He is very deserving of this honor.”

 

Coach of the year

Darryl Rayfield, East Troy

One of those coaches that could win this award every year, Rayfield has now taken the Trojans to state three times in the past six years, with this year’s version falling in a state semifinal to eventual champion Prescott.

With a sophomore sensation in AJ Vukovich leading the way as Rock Valley Conference player of the year, Rayfield simply wouldn’t let his guys be intimidated in a playoff upset victory over Martin Luther.

Rayfield has high expectations for his players, and he finds success using tough love, highlighted by passionate yells and foot stomping on the hardwood floor.

He doesn’t take it easy on his players, and it has helped the Trojans become one of the best programs in the area and the state.

About 12 years ago, Rayfield helped coach his son, Rion, as an assistant for Burlington Catholic Central. The Toppers won the Division 5 state title, and Rion was one of the best players and is still revered as one of the best Toppers in school history.

By the time he joined East Troy in 2012, Rayfield’s reputation as a hard-nosed, basketball genius was well-established, and he helped guys such as Nate Dodge and 6-foot-8 twins Brett and Alex Prahl earn Division I college basketball scholarships.

Rayfield is one of those guys who has more hoops knowledge in his pinky than a lot of opposing coaches have in their entire bodies, and it’s no coincidence that star players like Vukovich and others drive from different districts to learn from Rayfield.

Perhaps the biggest testament to Rayfield’s work is that his former East Troy players often return during the summers to help the current high school kids work on their games.

Rayfield was named the co-head coach of the year in the Rock Valley in 2018.

 

First team

Jack Pettit, senior, Union Grove

A four-year starter that received several player of the year votes, the igniter of the Broncos’ 19-5 Southern Lakes Conference championship season did it all.

He was the focal point of the offense, bringing the ball up the court and getting his teammates involved.

Pettit also could get it done defensively, clamping down on opposing guards.

He was named the SLC player of the year and earned honorable mention All-State.

Though the Broncos’ season was cut short with a regional final debacle at home against lower-seeded Elkhorn, Pettit probably had the best regular season in the area.

Also a first team all-Racine County pick, Pettit broke the all-time school scoring record (1,188 points.

Pettit also became the all-time leader in assists (302) and tied the school mark with 123 steals.

Pettit scored 17.6 points, grabbed 5.2 rebounds and dished 4 assists per game his senior season.

 

AJ Vukovich, sophomore, East Troy

A Division I college baseball recruit for the University of Louisville, Vukovich is the total package on the court.

An inside-outside threat to score, he drew constant double and triple teams yet was often able to muscle his way inside for a bucket.

Vukovich averaged 20.7 points and 10.1 rebounds per game, and his 34 points in a sectional final lifted the Trojans to state.

At state, despite repeated harassment from a host of Prescott defenders, Vukovich managed 17 points, nine rebounds and four assists.

His ability to contort his body, often weaving around outstretched arms for his shot, keeps defenses in check and allows the 6-foot-5 combo guard/forward to score or kick out to an open teammate for a wide-open triple.

Vukovich was the Rock Valley player of the year and earned Division 3 All-State honors.

 

Latrell Glass, senior, Wilmot

The leading scorer in the SLC, Glass, an athletically gifted wing, scored 19 points per game and earned first team all-county and all-conference honors.

He passed the 1,000-point mark and finished an illustrious career with 1,291 points.

Glass was lights out from beyond the arc, with 62 triples to lead the SLC.

He hit a remarkable 43 percent of his 3-point attempts and added four rebounds and two steals per game.

“Latrell made others better and took the team on his shoulders when we needed it,” said head coach Jake Erbentraut. “He had skills that could not be taught and could take over a game unlike anyone I’ve coached.”

Glass was a part of 44 wins and two regional titles.

“I’m so grateful I had the honor of coaching him,” Erbentraut added.

Catholic Central senior Frank Koehnke is congratulated by head coach Kyle Scott after reaching 1,000 points for his career with a free throw. Koehnke earned second team all-MCC honors. (John Fisher/SLN)

Frank Koehnke, senior, Burlington Catholic Central

Another 1,000-point scorer, Koehnke joined a list of five elite Toppers with his scoring milestone in 2018.

The best player on a young team that featured mostly sophomores, Koehnke partially tore his anterior cruciate ligament in his knee the third day of practice, yet didn’t miss a game.

Against four state-ranked opponents in the loaded Metro Classic Conference, Koehnke scored 17.3 points and snatched 8.2 rebounds per game while hitting triples at a clip of 41 percent. He shot 73 percent from the line.

Koehnke had the ability to take over a game and showed his range with a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to win a game early in the season.

Though Catholic Central bowed out in its first playoff game, Koehnke earned second team all-conference honors.

Koehnke demonstrated raw power in the paint and scored through contact despite constant double teams.

“I have a hard time believing too many players in our area could do what Frank did in the Metro Classic,” said coach Kyle Scott. “Our league is tough night in and night out. Frank constantly faced double and triple teams and did a nice job leading a team that had four sophomores on the court with him at times.”

 

Luke Umnus, junior, Elkhorn

A “one-man press breaker,” according to Elkhorn coach Josh Skatrud, the soccer star Umnus can run the show and lead an offense with the best point guards in the area.

A first team all-SLC and Janesville Gazette All-Area pick, Umnus helped the Elks capture their first regional championship in 10 years.

Umnus zips down the court under control and can always find an open teammate, because he has the ability to get anywhere on the court with his elite handles.

He averaged 12 points, 4.4 assists and two steals per game.

“Luke had an excellent year running the point,” Skatrud said. “He carried a heavy burden and could control games without scoring, but he could score when needed (games of 23 and 24 points). He’s a solid defender.”

Umnus, along with Vukovich and Zackery, are sure to battle for the All-Area player of the year in 2019.

 

Cooper Brinkman, senior, Westosha Central

With modest numbers of 11 points and seven rebounds per contest in the regular season, the 6-foot-4 guard/forward was a different animal during the Falcons’ historic playoff run.

The sharpshooting Brinkman scored 20 points to open the playoffs in a win against Westosha Central, and he followed it with 17 points each in the sectional final and state semifinal.

His hot shooting at state kept the Falcons in the game into the second half.

He finished with averages of 17 points and eight rebounds in the four-game postseason.

A first team all-Kenosha County and second team all-SLC pick, Brinkman displayed a smooth outside shot and mixed it up inside.

“He raised his game to a new level during our playoff run,” said coach James Hyllberg. “Cooper was the one who always came up with the big rebound or steal when the game was on the line. He is very active around the rim and consistently knocked down the 12-15 foot jump shot.”

 

Second team

Bryce Konitzer, senior, Mukwonago

With the graduation of 2017 SLN All-Area Player of the Year Brandon Hau, along with a few other key players, it took some time for the Mukwonago Indians to pick up the scoring slack.

But Konitzer, a Division I Illinois State recruit for baseball, stepped up and helped lead the Indians to a 16-8 record.

An honorable mention all-Classic 8 pick, Konitzer averaged 12.2 points to lead Mukwonago and averaged 36 percent from beyond the arc.

He added three rebounds per contest.

“Bryce is a guy who could change the complexion of a game in just a couple possessions,” said Mukwonago coach Jim Haasser. “Until the final horn sounded, we were only a couple Konitzer 3’s away from making a run.”

 

Morgan Carpenter, junior, Palmyra-Eagle

The 6-foot-4 big man only took nine shots per game but averaged 12.9 points for an 18-4 squad that won the Trailways South Conference.

He led the league in rebounding with 8.9 per contest. Carpenter also was third in the league in blocked shots and earned first team all-conference.

Head coach Michael Meracle said individual statistics were sacrificed this season, as no player averaged more than 24 minutes and there was a nine-player rotation.

“Morgan split minutes with a sophomore and didn’t complain once this year,” Meracle said.

Riley Hale was a lethal outside shooter for the conference champion Broncos. (Rick Benavides/SLN)

 

Riley Hale, senior, Union Grove

A straight-up assassin from the outside, Hale can fill it up night in and night out.

With 124 triples in his career, he’s the all-time 3-point leader in Bronco history.

Hale earned first team all-conference honors thanks to 13.8 points and 5.7 rebounds per game.

Hale hit 47 of 124 triples, good for an excellent 38-percent clip.

Hale was honorable mention all-county and helped the Broncos go 13-1 in winning the SLC.

 

Michael Polakoski, junior, East Troy

A 6-foot-1 guard, Polakoski earned first team all-Rock Valley honors.

He averaged 13.6 points per game for the conference champion Trojans.

 

Vince Umnus, junior, Elkhorn

Luke’s twin brother in the backcourt, Vince was equally capable of making big plays and running the offense.

A second team all-SLC pick, Vince averaged 11 points, 3.2 assists and 2.4 steals per game.

Vince was a key member of the Elks’ solid season, in which they finished third in the Southern Lakes and made sectionals for the first time since 2009.

“Vince made big plays when we needed them on both ends of the floor,” Skatrud said.

Vince had a season-high 31 points at Monroe.

 

Nic Frederick, senior, Westosha Central

Frederick didn’t possess the gaudiest numbers, but his ability to run the offense from the point guard position was instrumental to the Falcons’ state run.

Frederick was honorable mention all-SLC, averaging 4.6 assists per game to lead the area.

He was masterful as a floor leader in playoff victories against Elkhorn and Monona Grove.

Frederick chipped in 8.2 points per game and connected on 50 percent of his triples (25-50).

Also a football star, Frederick helped Westosha form the area’s most lethal backcourt.

 

Caleb Thomas, senior, Faith Christian

I don’t care who you’re playing against, 20 points per game is no fluke.

Though the Faith Christian Eagles play in Division 5 and don’t see the deepest talent pool on a regular basis, Thomas proved he was the best player on a solid team.

Against strong competition in the playoffs, Thomas, who averaged 20.1 points per game, showed his skills with 23 points in rare Eagles victory over Catholic Central.

The first team all-Indian Trails selection ate up the Toppers in the playoff victory.

Faith finished with a 16-8 record.

 

Honorable mention

Jeremy Bruton, senior, Wilmot

All-SLC 2nd team, All-Kenosha County 2nd team, fourth in SLC in scoring (15.1 ppg), 43 3’s

“He is an outstanding young man of high character,” Erbentraut said.

 

Sahej Singh, senior, Williams Bay

17.5 ppg, 4 rebs, 4 asst., all-Trailways 2nd team, led Trailways in scoring

“Sahej is a dynamic and explosive player,” said Bay coach Troy Nottestad. “He led the conference in scoring despite playing through a high ankle sprain the second half of the year.”

 

Daniel Fuller, senior, Whitewater

14 ppg, 45% FG, 5 rebs., 37% 3-pt, 77.5% FT, 1st team all-RVC

“He was our best all-around player and our leader in games and practices,” Whitewater coach Dan Gnatzig said. “He led us in scoring and did a great job defending the best offensive players on opposing teams.”

 

Logan Eischeid, junior, Walworth Big Foot

17.2 ppg, 2nd team all-RVC, 45%FG, 49 3’s, 5.7 rebs.

 

Burlington’s 6-foot-7 center Brock Halbach was an athletic presence down low for the Demons. (Rick Benavides/SLN)

Brock Halbach, senior, Burlington

7.1 ppg., 6.8 rebs., HM all-SLC, HM all-county

 

Jacob Ross, senior, Union Grove

7.8 ppg, 3 asst., 1.5 steals per game

 

Reese Crull, junior, Delavan-Darien

HM All-SLC, 12.3 ppg, 6.5 rebs.

 

William Busch, senior, Waterford

2nd team all-SLC, HM all-county, 13.3 ppg, 9.7 rebs., 2.5 asst., 1.7 steals, 9 double-doubles, team MVP

“Will is an extremely hard worker, very coachable and an unselfish teammate who played out of his natural wing position to play post for us this season,” said coach Paul Charapata.

 

Adam Simmons, junior, Westosha Central

-broke out in postseason, 48%FG, 9.5 ppg., 3.1 rebs.

 

Dylan Anderson, junior, Westosha Central

2nd team all-SLC, 11 ppg., 50%FG, 34% 3’s, 5.1 rebs.

 

Kale Rodgers, junior, Lake Geneva Badger

14 ppg., led team in steals, assists, 6th in SLC in scoring

 

Tyus Vinson, senior, Badger

11.9 ppg., HM All-SLC

 

Kyle Gendron, senior, Wilmot

HM all-SLC, HM all-county, 11.7 ppg., 6.1 rebs.

“By senior year, Kyle became not only a contributor but also a leader and captain,” Erbentraut said.

Will Busch averaged 13 points and 10 rebounds per game for Waterford. (Rick Benavides/SLN)

Revin Schneider, junior, Palmyra-Eagle

12.4 ppg., 74%FT, 50% 3’s, 1st team all-Trailways

“Revin was my best all-around player,” Meracle said.

 

Logan Mitchell, senior, East Troy

All-RVC 2nd team, 7.5 ppg

“Best defensive player in the area, period,” Rayfield said.

 

John Reardon, senior, Mukwonago

45%FG, 43%3’s, 4 assts., 3 rebs., 2 steals, 2nd team all-Classic 8

“John was our engine, he was our most important piece of the puzzle,” Haasser said.

 

Area leading scorers

  1. AJ Vukovich, East Troy, 20.7 points per game.
  2. Caleb Thomas, Faith Christian, 20.1.
  3. Latrell Glass, Wilmot, 19.0.
  4. Jack Pettit, Union Grove, 17.6.
  5. Sahej Singh, Williams Bay, 17.5.

6 (tie) Frank Koehnke, Catholic Central, Jaeden Zackery, Westosha Central, 17.3.

8. Logan Eischeid, Big Foot, 17.2.

9. Jeremy Bruton, Wilmot, 15.1.

10. Kale Rodgers, Lake Geneva Badger, 14.1.

 

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