Fathers, sons, and brothers: A formula that worked for the Germantown Warhawk hoops team
Two-time state champions had a different dynamic
Germantown boys basketball coach Steve Showalter says his younger son Jake is his own man and a different kind of player than his two-time NOW All-Suburban Player of the Year and current Wisconsin Badger eldest son Zak.
"Jake's still my 'little guy,'" chuckles the coach, still basking in the warm glow of the Warhawks' second consecutive WIAA State D1 championship. "He accepts things more and we're very close. He doesn't like to be confronted as much as Zak, but he still gets the job done."
And no one questioned Jake's toughness or his ability to handle confrontation in the state final against Mukwonago on March 9. He couldn't get open for his customary 3-point bombs against the physical Indian defense, but he stayed mentally in the game.
For his trouble, he got hit with a variation of a wrestling lateral drop in the lane going for a rebound in the second half, dinged up his knee something fierce a little later, but still finished the game without complaint.
That little demonstration just scratches the surface on what made up this 28-0 team. A team that was so much different than the 28-0 team that preceded it in 2011-12. Like coach Showalter said earlier, the emotional make-up and demeanor of the two squads was different, but the results were the same.
It was a team made up of fathers and sons, brothers and teammates.
Junior forward Jon Averkamp has the unenviable situation of not being his older brother, Germantown's two-time NOW Player of the Year center Ben Averkamp, who just finished up a stellar career at Loyola of Chicago. But Jon's coach doesn't think the power forward, who frequently draws the opposition's best big man on defense, needs anyone to feel sorry for him.
"Jake tells me that is the funniest guy on the team," said coach Showalter of Jon, "and I watch him play volleyball in the fall and he's all fun and light and roses all the time, but he gets around basketball and I seem to have some kind of effect on him as well as other people." He laughed. "He just seems to adopts a different mentality, a different role."
"I hear him laugh in the locker room but not when I'maround, but he does everything we ask. Everything he's done he's had to work for. It's tough on him. He's expected to do a lot of the dirty work, but he does a great job."
"We don't talk as often because we're both pretty busy," said Ben, "but I'll send him texts before big games wishing him luck and we go on-line to play 'Call of Duty.' And what they've been able to accomplish (as a team) is just awesome. He reminded me of that last year, teasing me and asking 'How many state titles have you won?'"
Ben Averkamp led the Warhawks to the state tournament in 2008 and 2009 but they fell short of the championship both times as Germantown was just establishing itself at the time.
It was both groundbreaking, and the establishment of a small, friendly sibling rivalry, which Jon understands and benefits from, said the pair's father, Rob Averkamp.
"Jon's OK with things, he understands his role," Rob said.
Half-brothers Lamonte and Brian Bearden get it, too. The two junior guards transferred in from Homestead before the end of their sophomore years, and worked hard to ingratiate themselves with their new teammates, hanging out at open gyms, meeting the guys at the Germantown McDonald's, keeping it low key until their eligibility clearances came from the WIAA.
"Once they did that, they figured out their roles," said Coach Showalter. "Lamonte was clearly the best point guard that we had, but he and Brian didn't really come in with any arrogance or sense of entitlement. They just wanted to be part of the team and the school. When they got to me in the fall (for the start of practice), they decided they just would do whatever they could do to help."
"And the others accepted them because they went about it the right way."
"It was difficult at first," said Lamonte. "A new team and a new school, but we put it together. We knew we could fit in and work with those guys. More and more we just kept working at it."
A turning point, said Lamonte, was when they were able to join the Germantown Whiz Kids summer league team and win a title with them. Lamonte worked hard to ingratiate himself with his new teammates, making pass after pass.
There was so much passing that his new coach finally asked him a question.
"I asked him 'Are you ever going to shoot the ball?'" said Coach Showalter, "and he told me, 'I can shoot it whenever I want.'"
He proved his point many times over the of the season, but never more emphatically than when he hit two buzzer-beating, back-breaking long three-pointers at the end of both the first and second quarters of the state semifinal win against Oshkosh North on March 8.
As for the passing, he just wanted to make sure his new teammates knew that he could do the job.
His brother Brian had a different role. Brian didn't play as much as Lamonte did in his two years at Homestead, but his first year at Germantown was an epiphany, as he became an important jack-of-all-trades. He's a physically strong 6-1 and he has the strength and quickness to guard just about anyone.
"He was a man without a position, but he could play every position because of his defense and rebounding," said Coach Showalter. "He could just sub in for any one of three positions. Just great all-around skills."
And after his brother's big game in the state semifinal, it was Brian's turn to have a huge impact in the state final against Mukwonago with 10 points and seven rebounds.
"I made sure to thank him for picking me up," said Lamonte with a laugh.
Something someone would do for his brother. Something this close-knit family of team did all the time this season.
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