The memory of success for the Nicolet boys basketball team is not that old, but it has faded just a little bit in recent years.
It may have received a little bit of a kick start this past season when first-year coach Allan Hanson cajoled a youthful team through a series of heart-stopping victories all the way into a second-place North Shore Conference finish behind D2 state runner-up Cedarburg.
Furthermore, the Knight faithful could feel the energy starting to return themselves as Hanson recalls the D2 regional semifinal victory against Grafton on March 3, the apex of the recently completed 14-10 season.
"That was one of the best surprises this season," said Hanson. "We were really pleasantly surprised by the amount of support we received this season. Everyone was excited. This group had not experienced a lot of success, but the support we received was just tremendous and the support in the Grafton game was great.
"People were telling me they hadn't seen the gym like that crowded in 10 years. The student section was just amazing."
Hanson is hoping that the Knights can build off this season, which Hanson built a good foundation for the future.
"It was a decent season," he said. "The best finish in conference in about 12 years, and to the kids' credit, it was their work ethic that got it done. They really bought into what we were trying to do. They competed all season and didn't give up during the hard parts.
"I was really impressed by their perseverance."
Nicolet's season ended a day after the Grafton win with a tough regional final loss to a good Beaver Dam team. It finished off a good closing stretch where the team won eight of its last 12 games.
That tendency started in mid-January with back-to-back three-point wins over Milwaukee Lutheran and Port Washington and then a short time later a two-point victory over Germantown. The run reached its apex when senior forward Isaiah Glidden hit a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to beat rival Whitefish Bay.
"I was proud that they were able to make plays in crucial moments," said Hanson."They weren't scared of the moment. That was another pleasant surprise because these guys haven't been in a lot of those situations recently."
Hanson praised season tri-captains Glidden (7.3 ppg.), first-team All-North Shore Conference selection Jayden Hardy and Dakari Williams for keeping order this winter.
"They were a huge part of turning things around," Hanson said. "They were the pulse of the team and really kept us together. They really helped us get that first winning season in awhile. We were able to finish on a good note because of them."
The 6-3 forward Hardy earned his all-league berth after averaging 13.7 ppg. with 18 3 pointers while hitting 63 percent of his free throws. Junior forward Jack Brahm (12.4 ppg.) was named second team while senior point guard Williams and junior guard Jeremy Ninham (8.1 ppg.) were both honorable mention.
Hanson said the junior varsity and freshmen units both have players with good potential. He said some off-season work will really help those players.
"We're looking forward to next year," he said, "but I don't think we'll be sneaking up on anybody."