New and old on display at latest Germantown basketball awards ceremony
Team ranked 21st in the nation
There was a celebration of the hard-won recent past when MaxPreps and the Army National Guard came by as part of the "Tour of Champions" on April 18 to the shiny and spruced up Germantown gym to award the state champion Warhawks boys basketball team a trophy for finishing 21st in their final official national rankings for the season.
But it was also a look into the future, too, for as noted, there were upgraded bleachers, an upgraded floor (courtesy of the Germantown Hoops booster organization) and new lights. All things that will benefit returning players like Luke Fischer, Jon Averkamp, Evan Wesenberg and Jake Showalter but won't really be of use for soon-to-be college players like Zak Showalter (Wisconsin) and Josh Mongan (Winona State).
However, one can't miss the point that following all the very successful actions of this most recent group of players and the actions of many others in the past 12 years of the coach Steve Showalter era, that improvements like those seen in the gym suddenly seem to have a lot more political will and cash behind them. Which in turn, may help lay the groundwork for future success for the team. A circle that may continue to feed itself for a time and which no one involved would like to see broken.
"Not a lot of players get to have their dream come true, but this group did," coach Showalter said. "And for me to spend this kind of time with this quality a group of kids is also something of a dream come true."
Adjusting to celebrity status
Coach Showalter was recently feted by the Washington County Board with an honorary piece of legislation, just the latest in a long series of such honors for the 28-0 Division 1 state champions. Furthermore, the individualized miniature WIAA state championship trophies had arrived that day for distribution to the players, who were all wearing matching "Tour of Champions/National Guard" T-shirts and khaki shorts.
"We're getting a little bit used to this," Coach Showalter said. "It's a little like having celebrity status. There have been a few more phone calls, a few more emails. It's good, because this is a once-in-a-lifetime thing, hopefully the basis for more than once-in-a-lifetime. It's just really special for these guys. For the coaches on the staff, the players this has been a long time coming.
"I can't help but think about the guys who have contributed and helped get the program to where it is.
"… Because when you win, you get the crowd and that's what it's always been about for me. Getting the crowd to watch."
And now it will be easier to watch, with the new lights and the new, more comfortable bleachers.
"Like I've told you guys over and over, the saddest thing about this all, is having it all come to an end," coach Showalter said, "but as you also know, I'll take the win anytime and we don't intend this to be just a one-time thing.
"I remember when I walked in here (12 years ago), I said that there was a dark and drab cloud hanging over this gym. Teams (like Homestead) always hit shots from halfcourt at the buzzer to beat us or at the quarter (especially noted Warhawks nemesis Tanner Bronson of Nicolet) to kill our momentum, but with the new bleacher and the new floors, it's a much brighter place."
And now they have to find room for another trophy, one that was presented by Army National Guard Staff Sgt. Williams Krauss. There was also a corresponding banner in front of which many people posed for pictures. The ranking is based on a BCS (collegiate football) style ratings system, said MaxPreps' Karl Wilhelm. More than 20,000 teams nationwide were ranked by the California-based company.
"I had no idea that this was coming," Showalter said. "We've never been ranked in the U.S. before and have never had any national attention. This is really exciting for our community, for our area and our school."
Interviews were then held, TV cameras were set up and, as noted, lots of pictures were taken.
And the program's future was dissected. Mongan noted that Winona State, an NCAA school that recorded a 25-5 record last season, was a good fit for him and that he will probably major in criminal justice.
Meanwhile, coach Showalter is already holding some open gyms and assessing what's in store for the defending champions next year.
"It's going to look much different," he said. "The graduated seniors are playing against the returning guys and the seniors now think they can do anything they want while the returning guys get the wrath of Showalter (laughs).
"It's funny, I got these coach of the year awards (from both NOW Newspapers and The Associated Press) and I actually think I did a much better job coaching in some of our 13-10 seasons. These guys made it easy. We just had such talent and leadership. After the Appleton East loss (at the end of the 2010-11 season) they just refused to lose again and they didn't.
"They just made it pretty special."
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