Nicolet in WIAA sectional with no clear favorite
Team looks to advance to Madison in hoops
In the late 1990s and early part of this new century, the Nicolet boys basketball team would have great regular seasons, but always seemed to be trapped in enormously difficult WIAA tournament brackets, usually running into Milwaukee Vincent at the height of their five state championship powers.
Now the Knights are back in WIAA sectional competition for the first time since 2005 and Nicolet coach Paul Hepp sees no 800-pound gorilla like Vincent standing in anyone's way.
In short, there is an opportunity here.
"There isn't a prohibitive favorite (to win and go to state)," he said. "The team that can play two games of fundamentally disciplined basketball is the team that'll go to Madison."
Nicolet (17-7) is seeking just its third state tournament berth ever and its first since 1993 when it takes on Milwaukee King (16-6) in a 6 p.m. sectional semifinal Thursdayat the Al McGuire Center on the Marquette University campus in Milwaukee.
The 8 p.m. Thursday semifinal will involve Milwaukee Washington (18-6) and Milwaukee Marquette (16-8) and the final is set for 1 p.m. Saturday back at the Al.
The Knights will rely on their senior leadership (all 10 of them) to see them through, and they have fans in unexpected corners.
"Tell those guys congratulations for me," said Steve Showalter, coach of North Shore co-champ Germantown, "because those guys can really play."
Hepp said the team is excited by the chance.
"They know that if they lose, it's just not the season, but a career," he said. "They want to play as long as they can."
What follows is a team-by-team breakdown:
Points scored: 59.3
Points allowed: 53.5
Analysis: The Knights can be a little erratic for a senior-laden team, but since a mid-season three-game losing streak, they won eight out of their last 10. They are guard-oriented, can force turnovers in bunches and like to get out for quick, easy baskets. Senior guard Myles Henry (6-3 ) has had several game-winning plays this year and averages 15.9 ppg. He gets help from 6-6 junior post Christian Griggs-Williams (11.7 ppg.) and 6-2 senior guard Clem Robinson (8.8).
Coach Hepp: "I imagine our practices will be intense this week. The guys are wishing that game were tomorrow (Monday) already."
Points scored: 59.8
Points allowed: 50.7
Analysis: The Jim Gosz-led Generals are a balanced, defensive-oriented bunch who come in hot, as they have won six of their last seven, including an 89-85 win over City champ Milwaukee Hamilton. They have seven players averaging more than six points a game or better led by 5-10 senior guard Courtlin Scott-Johnson (11.9), 6-7 senior post Silas Mills (9 ppg.) and 6-4 sophomore forward Arroyo Edwards (8.2). King also had an early season résumé-polisher of a 65-62 win over Greater Metro champ Menomonee Falls (20-3).
Coach Hepp: "They'll pressure you, they'll go full-court and they will attack relentlessly. You've got to protect the ball against them. They're also very deep at the guard spot and will run in 10 to 12 guys a game."
Points scored: 73.7
Points allowed: 57.8
Analysis: A couple of weeks ago, the red-hot Purgolders would have been that prohibitive favorite in this sectional, but then their top two scorers Quevyn Winters (19.3) and Dominique Williams (11.1) were suspended because of an incident involving a game official and everything changed. They still managed to beat Oak Creek and Tosa West to advance to the sectional, but will now have to rely more on 5-10 senior point guard Terry Taylor (15.4), 6-1 junior Melvin Cook (8.4) and 5-10 sophomore Antonio Mayfield (8.2).
Points scored: 57.0
Points allowed: 47.2
Analysis: The Hilltoppers have come a long ways since a 2-5 start. They earned the runner-up spot in the Greater Metro and gave unbeaten league champ Falls its toughest game with a late season overtime loss. Tough-minded, Marquette comes in winners of 14 of its last 17 games including a 54-43 upset of second-seeded Milwaukee Riverside in the regional final. Junior 6-6 post John Korpiva (11.5 ppg.), 5-10 junior Quinten Calloway (11.3) and 6-2 senior Mark Haas (9.3) lead the way.
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