Team effort led Brookfield Central boys basketball to successful season
LaChance, Goodman led way; Majority of roster returns next year
When you think about the 2012-13 Greater Metro Conference co-champion Brookfield Central boys basketball team, the names Riley LaChance and Elijah Goodman immediately come to mind.
But the Lancers were more than just a two-man team as they shared the title with Sussex Hamilton with a 13-1 record, made it to the WIAA regional championship game and finished with a 20-4 record.
"Many of the underclassmen and last year's JV got into the rotation and were major contributors," veteran coach Mark Adams said. "We made adjustments as the season went on, but these guys worked hard in the off-season. Many times they did things in the game that didn't show up in the box score."
Four players in particular jump out at you.
Brad Newman, a 6-foot junior, played the point guard and enabled LaChance to work his magic from the No. 2 guard spot most of the year and was the team's third-leading scorer at 7.5 points per game.
Then the 'hustle twins' - juniors Terry Wallen (5-11, 3.3 ppg.) and Gunnar Malensek (5-10, 2.2 ppg) - took charges and played outstanding defense. In the huge win over Sussex Hamilton which gave Central a share of the title, each were surprise starters and they held Brady Ellingson to 14 points, eight under his average (22.8).
"Sometimes it's hard to accept roles like that," Adams said. "But they were passionate and their performance showed they liked it. They were a key for us. Gunnar took 12 charges and Terry had eight."
Senior Peter Mattiacci, a 6-3 guard, was a solid fifth starter, early in the year playing a key role from the 3-point line. Luke Rasmussen, a 6-8 junior forward, also started for the Lancers and had his good moments.
But perhaps the most improved player - and definitely the most athletic player on the squad - was junior forward Caleb Mortag.
"Caleb didn't start, but he played 'starter minutes' and finished most games," Adams said. "He gave us a lift off the bench offensively and defensively. He gave us length (6-7) on defense."
Mortag was a key to the success of Adams' 1-3-1 defense, playing at the top of the key and forcing opponents further out. Offensively, he would get passes inside and had his fair share of dunks, bringing the crowd to its feet.
Adams had good things to say about Nate Hugo, the other senior on the team.
"I can't thank him enough for his commitment and dedication," he said of the 6-2 guard who didn't get a lot of playing time. "He could have done the minimum, but he worked hard in practice. That is the kind of person he is, too. He is really positive and very popular on the team."
Hugo was a fan favorite, as Lancers fans held signs up with his name on it and chanted his name. When he did get in the game, every time he touched the ball, the place went nuts.
Juniors Zach Tichelaar, a 6-5 forward, AJ Taylor, a 6-7 forward, Drew Peterson, a 6-1 guard and Jack Knetter, a 6-0 guard, and sophomores Emil Radisevic, a 6-5 forward, and Kamren Pfeifer, a 5-11 guard, rounded out the roster.
Then, of course, there was the deadly 1-2 punch of Mr. Inside (Goodman) and Mr. Outside (LaChance).
"Elijah had an incredible year," Adams said.
Indeed. Goodman, who lost 20 pounds in the off-season, posted double-doubles in 22 of 24 games.
"He was the best post in the conference, whether playing in front or behind," Adams said. "He had an array of moves, he had great determination and a love of the game. He has a great way to create space as he can follow the flight of the basketball so he knows where it's going to be."
Then there was LaChance.
"Riley developed a complete offensive game," Adams said. "What he does, especially this year, was important to the success of our team. He handled the pressure from baseline to baseline, as players kept taking turns guarding him. He proved he could handle just about anything. He is unselfish and he is a humble player and a joy to coach."
This group, as always, set goals to win conference and make it to state, and came a few wins short of the latter, losing to Milwaukee King in the regional title game.
"Our No. 1 goal was to win conference," Adams said, "and it was meaningful, more special, winning in double overtime to win conference. We took care of business. I was very pleased."
The Lancers had not won or shared a league title since 2003.
"We preached to the kids in the weight room how tough it is to win conference," Adams said. "After losing to Hamilton the first time, we knew if we slipped up and lost we probably would be out of the race. Every game after that was like a playoff game for us.
"We were a favorite, so we had a target on our back. We showed everybody we had a chance to be a pretty darn good team the way we responded."
The good news for Adams and Lancers fans is that 12 of the 15 players return next season and the JV won the conference championship.
"But we're going to have to continue to work hard over the off-season and get that chemistry back and renew that attitude we had," Adams said.
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