NICOLET BOYS BASKETBALL
It wasn't a championship season, and it wasn't a team marked by superstars. It was just a squad of good guys who got along and made the most of their talents.
And that suited outgoing Knights coach Paul Hepp as he finished up his 21st and final season with a 12-12 record.
'It was good, a nice way to wrap up my time with basketball,' he said. 'I was lucky to have the kids I did this year. They showed up, worked hard and still had fun. We also had a great group of parents who bought into what we were trying to do.'
Hepp said the closing banquet was a fine event as the special part was the presentation to him of a special collage of pictures of the players with their autographs on it.
The Knights' season and Hepp's career ended with an exciting WIAA D2 regional semifinal loss to Milwaukee Washington.
It was the last game for seniors such as first-team all-North Shore selection Raylonzo Woods, second-team choice Jezzriah Burton, Tyree Young, Joel Harris, Jack Weatherly, Noijon Coble-White, William Eaton and Max Walker.
Team awards included Best Spirit to Glidden, Mr. Defense to Dakari Williams, Best Practice Player to Eaton, Best Teammate to Harris and Most Improved and Team MVP to Young.
Hepp was instrumental in leading the Knights to six North Shore Conference championships (1999, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2005) and five WIAA sectional appearances (1996, 2000, 2004, 2005, 2010). He was also named North Shore Coach of the Year six times, CNI Newspapers Coach of the Year in 2003 and was a WBCA Division 1 South All-Star Head Coach.
He's also been a coveted and well-liked social studies teacher, particularly of American history and economics, which he is looking forward to spending more time on.
'I'm going to miss a lot of things,' he said. 'The players being the No. 1 thing. The competitive drive is what pushes you forward all these years. Now I'm looking forward to other opportunities in my life. I've always wanted to go to things like Wisconsin and Marquette games. Now I'll have a chance.'
SHOREWOOD BOYS BASKETBALL
Health was never in the favor of the 6-17 Greyhounds this season despite the best efforts of 24-points-per-game-scoring junior guard Mikael Green.
'We were playing so many kids by the end of the season,' said coach Phil Jones. 'Our most experienced player, Shane Carrington, was limited to six games because of injuries and by the end of the season. We just had a hard time holding up at the end.'
That showed up in the Greyhounds' difficulties the last two months of the season. They were 4-3 at the end of December by only 2-14 after that point. Their lack of physicality made it hard to get stops on defense as they gave up 100 or more points three times this season.
'The conference was not a puppy this year; it was a tough haul all season,' Jones said. 'I think it was the toughest D2 conference in the state.'
Green earned first-team All-Woodland Conference East honors for his efforts as he could score in a variety of ways, including outside shooting and quick penetration to the lane.
Other high points for the season noted Jones was the play of senior forward Chris Perine, who Jones said had a 'great season.' Sophomore DeAndre Andersonalso played well for long stretches, and junior forward James Ewingwas having a good season until he missed the last six games due to injury. Anderson was second-team all-East Division and Perine honorable mention.
Senior forward Calvin Chappelwas also missed underneath as he missed several games due to injury. Jones is also hopeful for sophomore guard Julian Rodriguez-Richards.
A major bright spot was the play of freshman guard Aaron Eimers, who showed a lot of ability when brought up at the end of the season. Senior forward Miles Perkins also filled in well.
Of more encouragement, Jones said, was the fact that the freshman team turned in its best record in several years.
'This was just a difficult season overall,' he said.
HOMESTEAD BOYS BASKETBALL
There were some encouraging moments in the 7-16 rebuilding year for the Highlanders, but coach Kevin McKenna said that the team just couldn't stay healthy enough down the stretch to compete.
'You stay in this business long enough, and you will find out that things will not always go as smoothly as you want them to,' McKenna said, 'but we plan to make a good push next year.'
The Highlanders, whose season ended in a WIAA regional loss to Bay Port, hit their best stretch between Jan. 22 and Feb. 12 when they won five of seven games, including wins over WIAA sectional finalists Cedarburg and Milwaukee Lutheran, but then their legs left them as they dropped their last five games, including a heartbreaker of a one-point decision to eventual WIAA state semifinalist Marquette.
'We had a lot of youth in our depth, and that caught up with us,' McKenna said. 'There were a lot of things. We didn't score as well as we thought we would. We needed to get more easy baskets off of our defense. We thought we could do that with our quickness, but it just didn't work out.
'If you don't score, you can't press.'
Things the Highlanders will work on offensively next year include pushing the ball upcourt and better ball reversal.
'Because when we were aggressive (offensively), we did well, but when we stood and held the ball, things bogged down,' McKenna said.
Seniors included Jack Popp, Jacob Urban, Justin Newby, Noah Check, Tommy Kennedy and Nick Zagorski. Popp and Urban were co-captains.
The team MVP was junior forward Taejuan Johnson, while the Highlander Award went to Urban and and the Chekouras Award went to Kennedy. McKenna said the junior varsity had a solid season and the freshmen competed for the North Shore crown.
WHITEFISH BAY BOYS BASKETBALL
A run to the WIAA D2 sectional finals marked a fast finish to the season for first-year coach Chris Millner as the Blue Dukes finished the year at 16-10.
Playing a high-octane, highly-entertaining style, the Blue Dukes occasionally had problems defensively, but because of the explosive guard line of first-team All-North Shore Conference guard Elijah Moore (20 ppg.) and second-team All-Conference junior guard David Thompson(21 ppg.), Bay was never out of a game.
Bay scored over 80 eight times on the season and over 70 on 10 other occasions.
Interestingly enough, their two lowest-scoring efforts of the season were both victories, a 59-50 nonconference decision over Milwaukee South and a 56-53 regional final victory over Pius XI.
Bay dropped three of its last four regular-season decisions but then beat Tosa East, Pius and Milwaukee Washington to advance to the sectional final before losing to state semifinalist Whitnall, 79-70, in the sectional final.
Seniors include Zach Casey, Charlie Cohen, Moore, Jake Fisher, Macklin Kortebein, Carter Heston , Tony Schulz, Alex Lindfors and Kale Moore.
— Compiled by Steven L. Tietz