It's been a good week, heck, a good month to be a former NOW Newspapers All-Suburban basketball players competing Horizon League collegiate hoops squads in the area.
The honors for most consistent, steady and reliable go to Germantown's Ben Averkamp, a 6-8 senior forward for the 5-2 Loyola (Chicago) University Ramblers, who just recently was named the school's athlete of the month and who also recently became just the 19th player in school history to score 1,000 career points and snare 500 rebounds.
More on him later, because the honors for most dramatic, eventful and exciting belong to two-time NOW All-Suburban player of the Year Ashley Green (Nicolet) and NOW selection Angela Rodriguez (Oak Creek) both of whom played enormous roles in UW-Milwaukee's recent record-setting, Loyola Marymount-style, 116-112 double overtime win over Bradley.
A video on UWM's website shows Green taking a long inbounds pass from teammate Emily Decorah with just 3.7 seconds left in regulation with the Panthers down three. Green quickly raced down the right side of the court and with a defender in her face rattled home a banked-in 3-pointer at the buzzer to tie the game at 87.
She looked stunned as she was mobbed by teammates.
Green, who helped lead Nicolet to its only WIAA state championship in a 26-2 senior year of 2010-11, fouled out in the first overtime but only after compiling a line that included a career high 33 points, nine rebounds, five assists, two blocks and an estimated four charges taken.
When she went out, Rodriguez put the team on her back, scoring 11 of the team's 14 points in the first overtime en route to a great line herself of 22 points and eight assists.
The win evened the Panthers' record at the time at 4-4 for new coach Kyle Rechlicz, who is reaping the rewards of former UWM coach Sandy Botham's aggressive recruiting in the metro Milwaukee area.
Green, who in eighth grade had to be talked into playing basketball by a then-Nicolet teammate and friend (Green had been a soccer girl), made a big splash last season for the Panthers earning Horizon League All-Newcomer team honors in 2011-12 after averaging 10.4 points and 5.4 rebounds and averaging close to 33 minutes a game, tops for all league freshmen.
The second all-time scorer in Nicolet history and NOW Player of the Year 2010 and 2011 was a relentless do-it-all performer on a talented Nicolet team that fulfilled its state title destiny in 2010-11. Green is now carrying on that tradition at a much higher level, as she is currently averaging 14.4 points and 6.5 rebounds a game for the Panthers with 16 assists and a team-high 12 steals.
None of this is surprise to her former Nicolet coach Corey Wolf, whose sister, Lindsey Bronson, is now an assistant at Bradley, and who was at the historic game the other night.
"It was funny," Wolf said. "Lindsey's in this new position but she was the one who had recruited Ashley for UWM and I was teasing her about that the other night. She and I even watched a little game film on Ashley and I said 'You can't let Ashley beat you' and she said 'We're going to have a hard time stopping her.'
"… And that was true. She made her adjustments last year (freshmen season), and she's just so smart and understands so much about the game. She just has a confidence about herself, so none of this surprises me at all. She's just going to get better and better."
Green's also an academic all-star having been a National Honor Society member at Nicolet. She is now majoring in kinesiology at UWM.
Rodriguez has carried on much the same fashion at UWM with the same tenacious attitude.
Her senior year at Oak Creek in 2010 was truncated due to an ankle injury (playing all 13 games) but that didn't stop Oak Creek coach Steve Hluchnik from calling her "the best player he ever coached."
She bounced back with a vengeance in 2010-11, earning Horizon League Newcomer of the Year honors for UWM after averaging 12.6 points per game. She remained a solid performer in 2011-12, averaging 10.4 points per game and leading the team in 3-pointers made and minutes.
She is showing no signs of slowing down this winter, as the junior communications major is currently averaging 13.3 points, 3.1 rebounds and 3.1 assists a game with a team-high 18 3-pointers as well as hitting 90 percent of her free throws.
Meanwhile, down the road at Loyola, it's been a quiet but highly successful three-plus years for Averkamp, as he is coming off a second-team All-Horizon League season during which he averaged a career best 15.4 points and 7.1 rebounds a game and became the first player to lead the team in both scoring and rebounding since 2004-2005.
He is off to a sensational start to his senior season for the 5-2 Ramblers as he is currently averaging 17.4 points, 6.6 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game. He is shooting 54 percent from the field and 90 percent from the foul line (30-33). Her also earned All-Tournament honors at the South Florida Invitational.
The 2008 and 2009 NOW Player of the Year and 2009 state Gatorade Player of the Year who led Germantown to its first two WIAA state tournament berths has, of course, been no slacker in the classroom. He was valedictorian in his class at Germantown. He earned Horizon League All-Academic team honors and was named to the Capital One first-team All-Academic District V squad last year.
Averkamp on NBA watch list
His plans to become an orthopedic surgeon remain firmly intact though his name can be found on an NBA watch list for senior collegiate players if his skill and the fates give him a chance to dip his toes in such elite waters.
And no one forgets that it was he who first lifted the Warhawks to elite status after decades of mediocre to lousy basketball, who opened the door for Zak Showalter and Josh Mongan to lift the state championship trophy for Germantown last March.
Germantown coach Steve Showalter will never forget him.
"I think consistency has been his middle name since day one," Showalter said of Averkamp. "He's not going to do anything crazy/fancy but he's not going to give you anything less than his complete best effort either. He will put in an 'X' amount of points and grab an 'X' amount of rebounds a game and he will also get all 'A's' in school.
"He'll do the right thing all the time and just do anything he can to help his team win."
A trait all three current all-stars seem to have in common.
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