Showalter and Tokoto open their final hoops campaigns
Local stars look to break school scoring records
When you're as high-profile as area Division 1 boys basketball recruits Zak Showalter of Germantown and J.P. Tokoto of Menomonee Falls are, you're used to having every move you make watched.
Such was the case when the two top-flight athletes with Wisconsin and North Carolina on their minds, respectively, opened up their senior hoops campaigns last week. They may have their last prep date together, when Falls and Germantown play at Homestead on Dec. 17.
In the interim, their opening nights were studies in contrast.
Showalter, who will take a serious run at Germantown's all-time leading scorer Ben Averkamp this season, would like to forget much of his contribution to the top-ranked Warhawks' 73-58 victory over seventh-ranked Brookfield Central on Nov. 29.
He didn't score until the third quarter, missed a couple of easy bunnies and had trouble with his perimeter shot, and yet, he still finished with a fine line of 10 points, eight assists and five rebounds.
"I was still proud of him," laughed his coach and father Steve Showalter, "but he was just very frustrated. But he knew it was a first game and he still definitely contributed."
It's just a testament to how deep the Warhawks are this season that Zak can have a seriously off game offensively like he did and Germantown can still beat quality opponents like the Lancers handily.
Coach Showalter noted that as his frontline did an excellent job of stifling the Lancer inside game. Six-foot, seven-inch senior Dan Studer and 6-6 sophomore Jon Averkamp came in for special praise for their efforts.
Still, as the season wears on, it will be Zak, along with his inscrutable senior point guard running mate Josh Mongan, who will be the face of these Warhawks, who have spent more than a decade building to this point of seriously thinking about a state championship.
Zak's a young man used to sacrifice, turning down many good Division I scholarship offers to be a preferred walk-on at Wisconsin and play for Bo Ryan, who coached his father while Ryan was developing his reputation at UW-Platteville in the 1980s.
"He'll be fine," Steve said of Zak. "He moved the ball around very well this game."
All eyes on Tokoto
Meanwhile, it's another question entirely how Tokoto's senior campaign will finish. It was a packed house Friday for the opener against Brookfield East, as new coach Dan Leffel opened up his regime on parents' night.
Tokoto, who is taking aim at Brad Christianson on the all-time Falls' scoring ladder this season, got the first bucket of the game on a strong drive to the hoop, but after that, it was all Spartans, as they scored the next eight points and never trailed, in a 73-52 decision.
The taller and slower overall Indians had trouble with rebounding and defensive positioning, picking up many first-half fouls.
Tokoto, with help from senior point guard C.J. Malone, the only other player to have garnered serious playing time in last season's uneven 11-12 campaign, helped keep the game reasonable, getting as close as five points in the third quarter, but it was not enough.
Clearly, beyond Tokoto and Malone, it'll be important for the Indians to develop a third scorer, as expected, Tokoto drew extensive defensive pressure from East forcing him away from the basket and into many perimeter jumpers.
There were still moments that brought the house down like his astounding one-handed follow-up jam to Malone's failed dunk attempt in the first quarter. It clearly looked like his hand could have touched the top of the backboard as the crowd roared its approval.
But those moments were few and far between. Tokoto continued to rebound hard, get down on the floor for loose balls and pick up teammates when they fell. When he went to the basket hard, he was hard to stop. It just appeared he needed to do that a little bit more than he did.
He had to leave the game for a few minutes in the second half when he collided with an opponent trying to gather up a loose ball, leaving him with a cut above his eye and his jersey spotted with blood.
Still, with all that working against him, he finished with 25 points and numerous rebounds. He passed recently inducted Falls Hall of Famer Dave Gross for second-place on the all-time school scoring list.
Afterward, his father, Trevor Trimble, talked about Tokoto's need for improving his defensive footwork, the fact that it was the first game for the team and that it will get better for them as the season moves along.
The happiest moment for Tokoto on the evening came before the game, as he happily presented his mother, Laurence Trimble, with a rose and then escorted her to mid-court as part of pre-game parents' night ceremonies.
He was beaming as he strode down center court with her on his arm.
Tokoto can only hope there are quite a few more such moments for himself and his teammates on the court this winter.
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