Shorewood boys basketball
Despite a lack of a true post and any degree of depth, the Greyhounds 13-10 season was a success this winter.
"Well, I thought we moved in the right direction," veteran coach Phil Jones said. "I think the kids got acclimated to playing a quicker style which I thought suited our personnel better. Basically we incorporated a style where all the kids had to be able to play guard.
"Our goal this year was to be able to get up the court, get inside and get to the line."
The Greyhounds' season ended with a WIAA Division 2 regional loss to Bradley Tech.
The team was led by senior guard Donovan Freeman, who earned first-team All-Woodland Conference Eastern Division honors after averaging 15 points and eight rebounds a game.
"He always led by example," Jones said. "Whatever position we needed him to play, center, guard, forward, he could do it. It just didn't matter."
Another critical senior was forward Bobby Kohl, who earned second-team all-division honors after averaging 11 points and nine rebounds a contest.
Carmen Purvis (11.6 ppg) and Alec Grimmer were other seniors who contributed greatly this winter. Other seniors on the team included Charles Organ, Jurell James, Rashad Packer and Dylan Dismuke.
Jones said that the freshmen team had an improved season and that the junior varsity was an encouraging 15-7 on the year.
Homestead boys basketball
The Highlanders were working with their third coach in four years and first-year mentor Kevin McKenna knew that might be a handicap to the veteran Highlanders.
Still, Homestead battled its way to a 15-9 record this winter and a tie for second in the North Shore Conference with Whitefish Bay.
"We were able to install a new system and then build for the future," McKenna said. "The freshmen and junior varsity teams were solid. We also had to compete with a very tough schedule, but one of the things that we could have done a better job developing is our leadership both in practice and on the court."
McKenna came back to the schedule and it was indeed a difficult start for the Highlanders. Between late November when among their first games they had to play was now two-time state D1 champion Germantown and the end of December (with their own Chekouras Classic), they packed in 14 games of their 22-game schedule.
"It was a brutally difficult start," McKenna said. "We had to do a lot of things on the fly with not a lot of practice time. Couple that with trimester exams, and it was just hard to put things in.
"Still, we saw improvement with our athleticism and skill level and we had better team play. We really were competing as a team at the end."
The season ended with a regional final loss to Germantown.
The Highlanders had seven seniors this year, including BYU-recruit Luke Worthington (team-high 13-plus points per game), Darius Marshall, Jake Laihinen, Sam Kaegi, Robbie Fulton, Quinton Sampson-Wood and Randy Tatum.
"We counted on those kids for a lot and it was a tough situation for them," McKenna said, "but they did the best that they could. They adjusted."
Nicolet girls basketball
Everyone was playing out of position, including Nicolet's best player, forward Briana Gray, who frequently had to play point guard and they just flat-out had a shortage of guards.
It all made for a strange mix for first-year coach Rick Dekeyser, and yet the Knights still turned in a competitive 13-11 season.
"We did, we did," he said. "What I was pleased most with all year was that we played with effort all year. There were so many games that we were down and still we managed to come back and keep it competitive. We just had so many one- and two-possession games.
"But these kids really did like each other and they stayed together as a team, even when they were mad at me (laughs)."
The Knights, who finished the season with a WIAA D2 regional final loss to Beaver Dam, completed a competitive 8-6 season conference, too.
They were led by the 5-11 Gray, who earned North Shore Conference co-player of the year honors after averaging 16.3 points and 8.8 rebounds per game. She hit 53 percent of shots from the field and 73 percent of her free throws (80 of 110) and she also drained 23 3-pointers. She was voted a team captain.
"She led us in every significant offensive and defensive category," Dekeyser said, "including assists. Throw this in and I think she accounted for about half our scoring."
Fellow seniors Lanoira Duhart (7.4 ppg. And 7.8 rpg.) and Sara Travia (7.4 ppg.) were also heavy contributors.
Other seniors were Jordy Borneman, Michelle Peltz, Katherine Richter and Brooke Silverberg.
"Even when others didn't, these kids believed in themselves," Dekeyser said. He said the junior varsity was better than in the past and that the freshmen were in almost every game.
Homestead girls basketball
Injuries to key personnel made the team almost young enough to qualify for glorified junior varsity status and yet the Highlanders improved greatly over the second half of the season and finished with an 8-15 record.
"There were a lot of positives," coach Matt Heuser said. "We had a lot to overcome, including injuries (to Karley Marotta and Jourdnae Moore) and youth. We really lacked any true experience but we still believed in ourselves. From that first bad Friday following Karley's (season-ending) injury to our finish, we improved a great deal and we played so many teams tough. Port Washington, Milwaukee Lutheran, even Nicolet and (North Shore champ) Cedarburg.
"We started three freshmen and a sophomore, but now we're really looking forward to next year. I think we'll have a harder time getting nonconference games because I think we'll really be good next year.
"And I really think that will happen if the kids continue to go to the camps and the summer leagues."
Heuser said his team will return about 91 percent of its scoring. The strength of the program is really in the freshmen class. He said about 20-22 freshmen came out and he carried three on varsity while another seven contributed to the junior varsity. Still with all that, the freshmen squad still posted a winning record and the youthful junior varsity was 13-9.
Moore came back to contribute nicely to the team and Jenna Burns, the only other senior on the team, won the Highlander award.
Freshman Taylor McIlwraith earned second-team All-North Shore Conference honors.
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