SLN ALL-AREA BOYS BASKETBALL: Westosha’s Hyllberg Coach of the Year
By Mike Ramczyk
They say variety is the spice of life.
After having several clear-cut favorites for Southern Lakes Newspapers All-Area Girls Basketball player of the year last week, the choice was a bit more difficult on the boys side.
The second annual squad is headlined by Mukwonago big man Brandon Hau, a 6-foot-8 inside-outside threat who will play Division 1 basketball at IUPUI next season.
Hau was a first team all-SLN selection last year.
He is joined on the first team by stars from Racine, Kenosha and Walworth counties, four of whom were on the all-SLN second team last year.
Throw convention out the window.
This isn’t your mom and dad’s All-Area team.
Sports Editor Mike Ramczyk and his trusted team of sports writers, including Tim Wester, Jason Arndt, Chris Bennett, Kevin Cunningham and Daniel Schoettler, weighed in on the best of the best from 15 area schools, all with athletes featured in our Kenosha, Racine, Walworth and Waukesha county publications.
While statistics are considered heavily, what’s just as important is a player’s impact on their team, leadership, team success and a certain “it” factor.
Does that player wow you when he’s on the court?
Is he making those around her better?
These athletes exemplified all the best traits, on and off the court, and all showed an ability to get the job done, no matter the adversity.
As for coach of the year, Westosha’s James Hyllberg capped off back-to-back conference titles with the school’s first sectional final appearance.
The tall, calm, collected Hyllberg has put the Falcons’ basketball program on the area map, and with plenty of talent set to return, they should be around for awhile.
Please tell us what you think of the team, as it is sure to evoke some opinions from coaches, parents and players.
Leave a comment on our sites, www.myracinecounty.com, www.mykenoshacounty.com and www.mywalworthcounty.com, our SLN Racine, Walworth and Kenosha County Facebook pages, and reach out to Ramczyk on Twitter @mikeramczyk17.
You can be assured we attend tons of games, talk to coaches and players and do our research, which was about a three-week process of gathering data.
Sit back, enjoy and experience the second annual SLN All-Area Boys Basketball squad:
Player of the Year
Brandon Hau, senior, Mukwonago
A first team all-Classic 8 selection, the 6-foot-8 Hau averaged 19 points, nine rebounds, two assists, 1.7 blocks and 1.7 steals.
The Division 1 IUPUI recruit became the Indians’ all-time leading scorer this past season.
Check out his feature story in this edition.
Coach of the Year
James Hyllberg, Westosha Central
With the pieces in place at Westosha Central High School, boys basketball coach James Hyllberg put them together, and it resulted in a second straight Southern Lakes Conference title and first sectional final appearance in school history.
In his second season with the Falcons, Hyllberg not only steered the talented group of players to a historic 20-6 run, but also created a new culture of winning following several consecutive losing seasons.
According to 2016 Westosha Central graduate Jordan Easthon, who also credited his former assistant coaches, Hyllberg was the right fit for the Falcons program.
“We always had good talent, just we never really had a coach give us discipline,” said Easthon said in a January interview. “I think that what he instilled in us last year, we were a much different team defensively. We knew we could score, we just had to stop the other team.”
Tre Williams, senior, Westosha Central
Williams, a left-handed sharpshooter, was the best player on the team that advanced furthest in the area.
The consistent scorer could hit 3-pointers and take it to the hoop, and he earned Southern Lakes Conference player of the year honors.
Williams scored 16.5 points per game and hit 47 percent from long range. He shot better than 50 percent from the floor and 76 percent from the foul line.
In two sectional games, he averaged 18.5 points, and in the sectional final against Waunakee, Williams’ 15 points almost single-handedly kept the Falcons in the game in the second half.
“Tre was a great teammate, and his desire to win came before any individual stats,” Hyllberg said. “He’s a kid you just love to be around, and he will be greatly missed.”
Nick Klug, junior, Burlington
One of the most explosive players in the area, the 6-foot point guard can get anywhere he wants on the court with elite handles, and he helped lead the Demons to a second-place finish in the SLC.
Klug can blow by any defender and wow with a no-look pass, or he can simply spot up and drain a triple.
The floor general who is already garnering some Division 1 college interest led the Southern Lakes Conference with 19.3 points per game and added four rebounds and 2.4 assists per game.
Klug shot 43 percent from the floor, 36 percent from three-point range and 84 percent from the foul line.
Klug earned first team all-county, first team all-SLC and honorable mention WBCA all-state.
“Nick was our floor leader and as our point guard he dictated our offensive and our defensive calls each game,” Burlington coach Steve Berezowitz said. “Nick’s leadership and on-court presence continues to grow as his game continues to expand. What made him so special to us was his unselfishness and his willingness to do what gave our team the best chance to win.”
Jonathan Ciriacks, senior, East Troy
Ciriacks poured in 486 points in his final high school campaign, good for a 21.1 per-game average.
The UW-Stout recruit finished second in player of the year voting behind Evansville senior Brennen Banks.
The area’s leading scorer exhibits an inside presence, according to East Troy coach Darryl Rayfield, who noted his versatility.
“He is a multi-skilled player, he shoots really good, he rebounds well,” Rayfield said. “When he goes off to college, he is going to be a great player.”
“He has a 3.8 GPA, he’s going into Mechanical Engineering, and he is a great student-athlete.”
Rayfield added that Ciriacks is one, if not the best player in Walworth County.
Alex Easterday, senior, Elkhorn
The Elks went from a six-win team last year to a 15-win squad this season, and Easterday’s dominance was perhaps the biggest difference.
The SLC’s second-leading scorer at 18.1 points per game, Easterday, a 6-foot-4 forward, added 7.6 rebounds for an Elks team that contended for the conference title throughout the entire season.
He surpassed the 1,000-point milestone this season and finished with 1,200 for his career.
Easterday will play for the WBCA Division 2 All-Star team this summer.
A Janesville Gazette all-area selection, Elkhorn coach Josh Skatrud said Easterday was a matchup problem.
“He (Easterday) was such a tough matchup, because if you had a smaller guy on him he could really take it inside,” Skatrud told the Gazette. “If you put a bigger guy on him, he was a much better shooter. That made us a better team in a lot of ways.”
Beau Cary, senior, Walworth Big Foot
A 6-foot-6 force in the paint, the first team all-Rock Valley South selection averaged 17.5 points and 9.2 rebounds per game.
He also led the Chiefs in field goals made, assists and blocks.
The versatile big even displayed outside touch, finishing second on the team in 3-pointers made.
Cary nearly averaged four assists per contest in conference play.
“Beau was our best player all season,” Big Foot Coach Mike Dowden said. “He had some great nights on both ends but, more importantly, didn’t have an off night. I think he is the best big in the league.”
Latrell Glass, junior, Wilmot
A natural assassin on the offensive end, the first team all-SLC pick poured in 26 points on the road to upset Burlington in a regional final.
Glass, a three-year varsity performer, averaged 17.3 points and 2.7 assists per game, and he scored a single-season SLC record of 49 points in a game against Delavan-Darien.
Glass has been a part of two regional championships.
“He is a great young man with a tremendous ability to score,” Wilmot coach Jake Erbentraut said.
Jack Pettit, junior, Union Grove
A gritty, gutsy point guard who battled through injury during the playoffs, Pettit was the Broncos’ team MVP and earned first team all-SLC and second team all-county honors.
Pettit led the team in scoring (15.2), rebounding (5.5), assists (4.2) and steals (2) per game.
He led the SLC in steals and assists.
Pettit recorded the first triple-double in school history against Wilmot with 27 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists.
Luke Geiger, senior, Burlington
Already a marksman from long range his junior year, Geiger became a relentless slasher in his senior campaign.
The second team all-SLC and honorable mention all-county pick will play basketball at UW-Stout in the fall.
Geiger was a consistent scoring threat and helped provide a lethal 1-2 punch with Klug.
He averaged 18.1 points per game and pulled down 5.8 rebounds.
Geiger, a team captain, hit 57 triples, shot 47 percent from the field and hit 76 percent from the charity stripe.
“Luke had a fantastic year for us,” Berezowitz said. “He was an exceptional leader on and off the court. The progression Luke made from his junior season to senior season is something very special.”
Alex Gehl, senior, Mukwonago
The 6-foot-2 guard was an effective player for the 16-8 Indians.
He earned second team honors in the Classic 8, perhaps the strongest overall athletic conference in the state.
Gehl scored 13.2 points per game and shot 54 percent from the field.
Ross Ingersoll, senior, Elkhorn
The 6-foot-7 center took care of the paint for the Elks.
A second team all-SLC pick, Ingersoll averaged 15.7 points and 7.2 rebounds per game.
Ingersoll was an intimidating presence down low and provided a powerful interior with Easterday.
Matt Korman, senior, Waterford
Another second team all-SLC pick, Korman was the best player on the Wolverines.
Also a baseball star, Korman averaged 17.5 points per game.
He was an honorable mention all-county selection.
“Matt was our team leader, the player other teams game-planned for,” said Waterford coach Paul Charapata. “Matt can score inside and outside and became a very efficient scorer near the basket along with being a steady defender.”
Frank Koehnke, junior, Catholic Central
The impressive athlete is a natural scorer and picked up the offensive slack after the graduation of 2016 SLN All-Area Boys Basketball Player of the Year Ben Heiligenthal.
Koehnke averaged 17.6 points, good for fifth in the highly competitive Metro Classic Conference, and added 5.6 rebounds.
According to Catholic Central head coach Kyle Scott, Koehnke shouldered a lot of the offensive load.
Koehnke hit 51 percent from the field and 31 percent from three-point range.
Riley Hale, jr., Union Grove
2nd team all-SLC, HM all-county, 47 3’s, 13.8 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 2.5 asts, 1.7 steals
“Riley was our best 3-point shooter and could heat up at any time,” said coach Dave Pettit.
Jayce Crull, senior, Delavan-Darien
11.1 ppg, 4.8 rpg, HM SLC
“Good team player, always thought of team first,” said Delavan coach Hembrook.
Logan Rasmussen, Whitewater
2nd team All-RVC North, all-Jefferson County
“Averaged in double digits and a big man that could run the court,” Whitewater coach Dan Gnatzig
Brady Olson, Palmyra-Eagle
2nd team all-RVC South
Cooper Brinkman, Westosha Central
2nd team all-SLC, 8.3 ppg, 4.6 rbg
“Cooper plays with an edge to him, and his role on defense helped propel our team to an 11-game win streak,” Hyllberg said. “He is confident and does whatever it takes to win.”
Jaeden Zackery, Westosha Central
HM all-SLC, explosive athleticism, 9.5 ppg, 2.5 asts
“JZ was consistent for us all season,” Hyllberg said. “He has tremendous court vision and is extremely dangerous in transition.”
Aaron Rueber, senior, Catholic Central
Great court vision, leader on court, rarely turned the ball over, 3.6 assists/game
Jeremy Bruton, Wilmot
HM all-SLC, 12.8 ppg
“Has the ability to shoot from outside, a great and respectable young man,” Erbentraut said.
A.J. Vukovich, junior, East Troy
6-foot-4 freshman, 1st team all-RVC, 15.1 ppg
“Has unlimited potential,” Rayfield said.
Logan Eischeid, sophomore, Big Foot
14.9 ppg, 44% 3-pt fg’s
“Logan was consistently one of our top two scorers each night,” Dowden said.
Will Busch, Waterford
HM all-SLC, HM all-county, 8.2 ppg, 6.9 rpg
“Will is a strong rebounder and defender with a solid mid-range and finishing game,” Charapata said.
Avery Lettenburger, Williams Bay
11 ppg, 7 rpg
Ryan Sproul, Lake Geneva Badger
Area leading scorers
1. Jonathan Ciriacks, sr., East Troy, 21.1 points per game
2. Nick Klug, jr., Burlington, 19.3
3. Brandon Hau, sr., Mukwonago, 19.0
4 (tie). Alex Easterday, sr., Elkhorn, Luke Geiger, sr. Burlington, 18.1
6. Frank Koehnke, jr., Catholic Central, 17.6
7 (tie). Matt Korman, sr., Waterford, Beau Cary, sr., Big Foot, 17.5
9. Latrell Glass, jr., Wilmot, 17.3
10. Tre Williams, sr., Westosha Central, 16.5