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2 from GT are All-Suburban

April 1, 2014

In the past, they were the role players, the little brothers of the stars who would hit the spot-up 3-pointer, and the athletic, tall, thin one one who battled in the post defensively against the bigger and stronger opposing center.

They would sometimes start and sometimes wouldn't. Their names weren't Zak Showalter, Josh Mongan, Luke Fischer or Lamonte Bearden.

In past years, they tended to keep quiet and let their play talk, letting the others claim the accolades.

But this past basketball season, Germantown NOW All-Suburban selections Jake Showalter and Evan Wesenberg, respectively, were the seniors, and were expected to be the leaders in a winter of absurd expectations, unexpected tumult and ultimate success.

It was not done easily, but the Warhawks fulfilled what some would have said was their destiny and joined a short list of teams in WIAA state basketball history to win three straight state championships, recording a 26-2 record this season.

The weight of expectation was everywhere after back-to-back unbeaten seasons.

"I knew growing up that everyone would compare me to Zak (his brother, the two-time NOW All-Suburban Player of the Year for the Warhawks)," said Jake Showalter, "and they would expect me to be just as good as him, but I knew I couldn't live up to those expectations. I'm a different person than him.

"I just want people to look back at the history of Germantown basketball and see that we won three state titles and that I had part in all that."

His father and coach, Steve Showalter, understands that point of view and worked with his son to bring out the best in him.

"Jake is more of a nice, mild-mannered kid," said Steve. "Whereas Zak, if there was a wall in front of him, would run and bang his head into it again and again until the wall broke. Jake, on the other hand, would throw a rope over the top of the wall or find a way to dig under it.

"Jake has always been compared to his brother and that has never, ever been easy. ...he didn't want to draw more comparisons (with Zak). He just wanted to be the guy who said 'Hey, this is something I'm really good at and that's putting the ball in the basket from anywhere on the court.'

"He was never Zak, but he loves to play and he's a competitor all the same. His body of work is very special and no one will forget what he did here and in the Kohl Center" with record 3-point shooting in state-tournament games.

He proved that again and again in the regular season, earning North Shore Conference co-player of the year honors; and in the physical state title game with Neenah, he came up with a clutch fastbreak lay-up at the third-quarter buzzer and then calmly hit two clinching free throws in the final seconds.

Wesenberg had a problem similar to Jake's, only his shadow was not a big brother, it was just all the really good Warhawk post men that had come down the pike in recent years. He was not Ben Averkamp or Fischer and never would be.

He and his partner in sweat, bruises and the difficult-rebound-underneath Jon Averkamp worked in hard anonymity, oftentimes rarely seeing the ball for a shot opportunity. That changed this year, as Wesenberg became a big-time post option for the Warhawks.

And that was not an easy trick for him, because he was coming off a junior season where he played more of a small forward's position, facing the basket. Now he had his back to the basket once again. Now he was back in the land of the giants.

"I like to look at myself as being adaptable," said Wesenberg. "Helping the team any way possible. We knew we weren't as big this year (without Fischer, who is now at Marquette). We (Averkamp and himself) knew that we would have fair amount of work to do, that would we would have to battle (bigger people)."

He suffered a mid-season ankle injury that was aggravating and which limited his effectiveness in the 69-game winning-streak-busting loss to Brookfield Central in January. Even after the season, the ankle is still only about 90 percent.

He still made his splash, scoring 25 points in the impressive state semifinal rout of Milwaukee King, taking the air out of what had been the most anticipated game of the state tourney. A WBCA first-team D1 all-state selection was his reward.

"Evan played the game he was capable of against King," said Steve Showalter. "They just couldn't stop him. ...and the potential is there (at North Dakota State). He has the build and the athleticism and the drive to become a really good player when he puts it all together.

"Because what I asked him to do wasn't easy."

No, nothing was easy this year, because Wesenberg, like Jake, like many others on the team, were low-key, quiet kids. So after the arrests and suspensions of mid-January, voices were raised, opinions heard and a way to right the ship were found.

Showalter and Wesenberg, along with Averkamp and others, stepped forward to make sure there wasn't a wholesale collapse.

Steve Showalter was very impressed with what Wesenberg did during that part of the season.

"He was extremely instrumental in holding things together during the tough times," said the coach. "He put his fist down and became the closest thing we had in terms of a vocal leader."

"We had to reform ourselves as a team," Wesenberg said. "We needed to come together. They (the ones who were suspended) showed that they cared and we (the rest of the team) showed that we cared too."

"We three (Wesenberg and Averkmap included) had a lot of meetings with the coaches after that," said Jake Showalter. "The team looked up to us for direction."

And they found it and, as a result, the Warhawks found a little history.

The two will look to find their way together at North Dakota State next season, which made a splash in the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament. They've been a part of three state titles and as Jake watches big brother Zak, in his red-shirt year at Wisconsin, he realizes big brother can make history again as the Badgers vie for a national title this weekend.

The two had a few moments before the Saturday, March 22 game with Oregon at the Bradley Center snapping pictures with Germantown's latest state title trophy. Just a perk of being part of a complicated, championship program as well as playing for your dad.

"It hasn't been easy being a coaches' kid," said Jake. "We've had our arguments (he and Steve). After all we spent so many hours together. ... but we've been successful in what we've done and not many coaches who have worked with their sons have had the same success."

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