Another week on the hardwood in Wisconsin saw some of the usual suspects deliver big performances once again while the elite teams continued to rise to the top in the state.  The biggest story though was in Brookfield where a talented junior guard took his game to an elite level and opened a lot of eyes in the process.  Here’s a look at that and more from this past week in today’s news and notes from across the Badger state…

TEAM RANKINGS
(1) Oshkosh North
No change at the top as Oshkosh North continued to roll along.  The 1-2 punch of Haliburton and Anderson is experienced and talented with the ability to put the team on their backs and go deep into March.  Right now they’re the team to beat.

(2) Sun Prairie
We talked about the 1-2 punch of Jalen Johnson and Marlon Ruffin last week and nothing changes there.  Ruffin is aggressive and active and he fills the box score while Johnson can make the game look easy at times and take it over in the same sense.  We caught their act this past weekend and while Johnson and Ruffin stepped up big in the second half, it was the play of sophomore forward Delaware Hale that was critical in their win.  His activity and effort freed up Ruffin and Johnson to take over and for them to win the state championship Hale will need to play consistent minutes, be a consistent part of the rotation, and bring the exact same activity and production he did on Saturday game in and game out.  

(3) Milwaukee Washington
Dominican fell last week so Washington moves up a notch and the top team in the Milwaukee area continues to round into form.  With Michael Foster now getting the minutes and play he should have early in the season, the Purgolders have a lot more balance and an attack that features Dinsmore, Long, and Foster.  If they are unselfish and clicking on all cylinders they will be a tough out in March.  

(4) La Crosse Central 
The defending D2 state champions keep on rolling and they like Washington are the frontrunners to beat in what is shaping up as a loaded Division 2 state tournament once again.  The Davis twins, Thompson, Parcher, etc. know how to play, they’re experienced, and they’ve done it before.  They say to be the man you have to beat the man and that could very well be the case in March.  If Washington is 3A then La Crosse Central is 3B right now.

(5) Racine Park
The one thing that is always impressive is a team that plays hard and Park does that and they do so with a lot of weapons and a lot of talent.  Bolstered by juniors and seniors and led by 2019 F Nobal Days in terms of biggest names, Park gets after it and they overpowered Destiny on Saturday with their effort, defense, activity, and balance…something Destiny usually brings in a superior sense in every match up.  They have a lot of parts and they all blend well into an active, versatile, and talented machine that has a chance to do a lot of damage in March.

Others of Note – Dominican, Brookfield East, Kimberly, Kaukauna, Pewaukee, Cedarburg, Madison Memorial, Brown Deer, Racine Park, Bay Port, Waunakee, Brookfield Central, Martin Luther, Xavier, Waupun, Monona Grove, Destiny, Franklin, etc.

PLAYER OF THE WEEK
COLE NAU – 2019 – PG – BROOKFIELD CENTRAL 
With a few players out the past week plus Nau was able to slide into his natural position as a point guard and his response was nothing sort of spectacular with three near triple doubles.  He led Central to a 3-1 mark their past four games with the only blemish being a second half loss to Sun Prairie where they quite simply did not have the depth to match them in the final 10 minutes plus.  A natural floor general, Nau is the type of player whose offense is a bi-product of his playmaking, leadership, etc. so he’s going to be at his best guiding the ship with the ball in his hands.  His passes are timely, he keeps everyone involved, and his perimeter shooting plays off of that as he can get to the rim, hit the mid-range jumper, and he has range beyond the arc.  By the way he also happens to be one of the best on and off the ball defenders in the state.  He checks off a lot of boxes with his size and skill and the talented lead guard looked the part of a solid mid-major floor general with scintillating production over the past four games.  

FIVE SENIOR STANDOUTS
(Note – Listed in Alphabetical Order – Not an Exclusive List)
Max Alba – 2018 – G/F – Franklin
The biggest piece in a 14-1 Sabers attack, the two sport start (i.e. baseball) has been exceptional throughout the season averaging close to 23 points a contest.  He dropped 24 on Saturday and 26 last night because that’s pretty much what he does every night.  A model of consistency, Alba is the best player on one of the best teams in the state that no one is talking about and no one will want to play in March.  

Grant Basile – 2018 – PF – Pewaukee
Averaging close to 25 points a contest the Wright State commit is continuing to make a lot of schools salty for sleeping on him.  Basile is just starting to hit his stride and this season he’s been tremendous game after game.  A 39 point effort in a victory over a tough New Berlin West group followed up with a 19 point double double performance in a victory over Greendale were two more chips to his resume this season.  Pewaukee is 15-1 and they’re a serious threat to the Division 2 state championship as well and the stellar play of Basile is a big reason why.

Jay Gentry – 2018 – PG – Brown Deer
The powerful leader continues to bull his way through the competition and this past week plus was no exception as he dropped 36 and 24 in two victories for the Falcons.  Add to that mix a ton of rebounds, a large number of assists, and continued dominant play on both ends and it was just another week in the life of one of the best stories of the season.  Gentry was exceptional once again.

Tyrese Haliburton – 2018 – PG – Oshkosh North
Averaging a little over 21 points a contest for North who sits at 14-1 on the season, Haliburton has been consistently dominant and that was the case again this past week.  The Iowa State commit dropped 23 and 21 in two victories for arguably the best team in the state at the Division 1 level right now.  Another solid week of work for Haliburton.

Tyler Herro – 2018 – SG – Whitnall
People may be tired of hearing about Herro but the reality is no one is stopping him and he keeps flipping score boards like he dropped a token in NBA Jam because he’s on fire.  He dropped a 44 piece and then followed that up with 37 in 20 minutes last night and both were victories for 13-3 Whitnall.  Herro is playing at such a high level that regardless of politics he’s been the best player on the hardwood all season and he should be the frontrunner for Mr. Basketball in the state at this stage if it’s really about the kids.  Equipped with an added chip on his shoulder for a perceived McDonald’s All-American snub, Herro is not someone anyone wants to line up against the rest of the season.  He’s see red and his game is lit right now so good luck stopping him.

JUNIOR TO KNOW
Ace Evans – 2019 – G – Martin Luther
Another of the emerging juniors who is starting to play to consistently solid basketball, Evans is averaging close to 17 points a contest for Martin Luther who sits at 13-2 on the season.  A 6-1 plus length guard with handles, breakdown ability, decent athleticism, range that can extend beyond the arc, and the ability to at times fill the box score when active, Evans is quietly becoming a player that’s opening some eyes and could do a lot more this spring and summer.  One of the emerging names on the scene in the state for the 2019 class.  

SUPER SOPHOMORE 
Desmond Polk – 2020 – G – New Berlin West
A 6-3 wiry plus length guard, Polk is averaging close to 19 points a contest and he’s consistently delivered some strong efforts for New Berlin West who is having a bit of a breakout season as a team.  Polk can get to the rim and finish, he has decent mid-range skill scoring versatility, and he can rip the nets from long range.  A legitimate Division 1 prospect, Polk is just starting his trend upward and with continued strength and development skill wise his best basketball is obviously in front of him.  He’s played at a high level so far this season.  

FABULOUS FRESHMAN
Ben Nau – 2021 – PG – Brookfield Central
With a couple regulars on the sidelines the young freshman was thrust into playing more heavy minutes and he responded this week with some solid overall performances.  There are a lot of guards at BC so being a freshman beyond a lot of juniors and seniors isn’t always the easiest but Nau has found his niche at times and delivered some nice results.  His range is solid, he handles it, he competes on every 50/50 ball, and he can create with some nice passing.  He led his team to the National Championship at the 14U level last summer and Nau continues to show flashes of that during his freshman year.  He’s scored close to or in double figures 3 of the past 4 games and continues to show that he belongs in what is shaping up as a stellar 2021 class in the state.