NY2LASPORTS.COM - WIAA STATE TOURNAMENT RECAP
Antonio Curro — NATIONAL RECRUITING DIRECTOR - NY2LASPORTS.COM
After a long three weeks the WIAA boys state tournament ended with a bang on Saturday as Ben Mills and Arrowhead defeated Madison Memorial to capture the Division 1 state championship. Saturday was filled with a number of huge performances and congratulations to Arrowhead, Catholic Memorial, Racine St. Catherines, and Randolph on their achievements. Here's a recap and some final thoughts on another fine season of boys basketball in the state of Wisconsin.
You really have to give some major props to the Arrowhead boys team who put it all together when it mattered the most. Addition by subtraction may very well have been the rule of thumb for them as a number of key role players stepped up for them throughout the tournament. Despite the fact that they struggled down the stretch of the season, they were able to navigate through some different challenges throughout the tournament and turned in their best performance when it mattered the most in the second half against Memorial. In a Villanova/Georgetown circa 1985 effort, Arrowhead blitzed Memorial from everywhere during a lethal three point barrage in the second half and completely dominated them in every sense to capture the state championship. Ben Mills was solid as usual but the keys to this state title run was the consistently tough play of senior Andy Fox and the clutch shooting of juniors Charlie Fischer and Charles Rushman. Combined they really came up big on Saturday in an exceptional team effort on all accounts.
As for Memorial, obviously senior Vander Blue didn't end his high school career the way he wanted but still have to credit the young man with turning in one of the best high school careers in recent memory. Understanding that there are a lot of people in the state who will not support him on a number of levels due to his de-commitment from Wisconsin and eventual commitment to Marquette, one thing that people need to appreciate is this young man had a big time career despite a sub-par performance in the state championship game. In terms of the game, really looked like Memorial was on the verge of blowing Arrowhead out in the second quarter but a number of costly turnovers and missed easy opportunities allowed Arrowhead to stay in the game and that's always dangerous. Arrowhead showed big time heart and toughness and as already discussed, they turned in a great overall effort.
Not too much more can be said that hasn't been said about the senior backcourt of T.J. Bray and Derek Schell for Catholic Memorial and they were exceptional again on Saturday. Schell really took over the game in the second and third quarters and his two trey balls at the end of the 2nd quarter that took a 1 point lead to 7 were absolutely huge. Bray turned in another solid overall floor game and combined they proved to be a 1-2 punch that was virtually unstoppable all season long. Really had a convincing win this past weekend and have to give major credit.
As for Northwestern, Donnie Hissa was huge on Saturday and Steve Tecker really started to get it going a bit in the second half. I thought legs would be a factor potentially and Northwestern really came out sluggish in the first half and it paid off for Memorial. Hissa showed excellent range and touch and while Tecker knocked down a few shots, he didn't have his typical explosion and showed some rust in terms of his ability to get to the rim. Collectively the supporting cast really didn't deliver and that was huge as a number of poor shots along with the reverse in terms of execution and finishing on the side of Memorial were the difference. Memorial had an excellent run and wrapped it up in convincing fashion on Saturday.
Cannot rave any more about the play of Steve McWhorter who was again solid on Saturday. What people don't always realize is this young man has excellent vision and his play in the third quarter in terms of scoring the basketball but also distributing the rock was the difference in St. Cats huge run. Equally solid was the play of sophomore Jordan Fouse who came up with his best performance of the season in an eye opening floor game. This isn't too much of a surprise as Fouse was excellent during our fall league and it was great to see him really come up big when it mattered the most.
As for Eau Claire Regis, Connor Miller put on a shooting exhibition in the third quarter but they just didn't have the firepower to match the likes of St. Cats and really had no one who could contain McWhorter's dribble penetration and creativity in the second half. A key moment in the game really game when McWhorter picked up his 4th foul because St. Cats went to a 1-3-1 zone and Regis never figured it out. Excellent season for Regis but they just ran into a St. Cats team that continues to set the bar for the Divsion 3 level.
Congratulations to Randolph on the state title but more directly congratulations to senior Kyle Kelm who really turned in a great overall senior year and capped it on Saturday in big time fashion. For those who don't know, Kelm really had a tough year last year in terms of injuries and at times took some hits in terms of how people projected him to the collegiate level. He was spectacular on Saturday in turning in a great overall floor game and it's great to see him end his high school career on a great note.
GB NEW Lutheran has nothing to be ashamed of as they were senational in their run to the state title game. With very little size but a lot of toughness, heart, and skill, GB NEW outlasted a number of teams and pulled off some surprises. Unfortunately they just had no answer for Randolph and didn't matchup in the state championship game. However, this time has some youth and could become a force to wreckon with next year and beyond.
Congratulations again to Arrowhead who I think surprised virtually everyone with a big time performance on Saturday. As good as they were at times, no one could see that second half effort coming. On Saturday morning I alluded to the notion that they could be a team of destiny after the shot on Friday night and that proved to be right on as they were unbeatable on Saturday night.
On a personal note, I really have to give some nice ink to a number of young men who put in some hard work at the fall Breakfast of Champions League for us at NY2LASPORTS.COM. While the league itself is always loaded with a huge focus on skill work and getting kids ready for the season, its always rewarding to see some of those kids turn in big time seasons and this weekend some of the key performers in Madison were veterans of the annual league. Steve Mcwhorter, Jordan Fouse, Chris Souter, and Mike Rittgers of the state champion Racine St. Catherines team all participated this past fall. For Arrowhead Andy Fox, Charlie Fisher, and Ryan May were all a big part of the league again. Catholic Memorial saw the likes of T.J. Bray, Derek Schell, and Mike Neary all participate the past few years. Mix in a host of other kids who were there this past weekend and it's extremely rewarding to see their hard work pay off with some of those young men playing huge roles this past weekend.
Note: Antonio Curro is the National Recruiting Editor for NY2LASPORTS.COM, GENERATIONNEXBASKETBALL.COM and 414HOOPS.COM. He is also a national consultant for ESPNU and the HOOPSCOOP.