Steady gains: As Mortag rises, Brookfield Central does as well
Lancers senior one of 14 players on first team
Brookfield Central boys basketball coach Mark Adams recognized what he had in Seth Mortag in his freshman season.
Adams, the Lancers veteran coach, put Mortag in the starting lineup in his first year, the first time a freshman has ever started for Adams.
"He was highly athletic and we were short on post players," Adams recalled. "He didn't play there much, but he helped out in a positive way. He jumped well and he moved out to the perimeter at times. He played inside and outside."
Mortag was thrilled to make the varsity team so soon.
"I honestly didn't know whether I would play JV or varsity," he said. "I wasn't surprised; I was more happy about it. I remember playing my first game. It was 'Wow!' and then it took off from there."
The Lancers struggled in Mortag's freshman year, finishing 10-12 overall and 6-8 in the Greater Metro Conference. But as the years went on, the team got better and so did its record.
Central improved to .500 (7-7) in conference and 14-11 overall during Mortag's sophomore year. And then things came together his junior and senior seasons as they were 30-16 overall and 20-8 in league play.
This past season Central finished 17-6 overall and 11-3 in the GMC, good enough for second place. And once again, Mortag was able to make Adams make a drastic change in his philosophy.
Adams was a coach who always played a man-to-man defense. But he saw something in Mortag that made him change his mind and make the Lancers a better defensive team.
"We went to a 1-3-1 zone and we rarely do it for one guy," Adams said. "It became characteristic of our team. We played 23 games and except for the three conference games we lost, it's the thing that help us win or kept us in the other 20."
Adams put Mortag at the point of the 1-3-1, allowing him to use his length and quickness. Many times he would deflect balls and then be on the receiving end of a fast break dunk.
Mortag remembered when Adam approached him about the move.
"During school, coach took me in his office and introduced the zone to me to try and convince me," Mortag recalled. "He said it could be the difference and it was a good difference."
Mortag definitely enjoyed being on the point.
"It was fun," he said. "Getting passes and going down the court; trying to be able to deflect passes. It was fun trying to play on the guards and keep them in front of me."
Mortag was a first-team all-Greater Metro Conference selection this year and a second-team last year. He averaged 16.2 points per game, 3.5 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 2.0 steals, while shooting 51.2 percent from the field, 75.6 from the free throw line and led the team in scoring in 12 of 23 games.
He finished third in school history in scoring (1,019) behind Charlie Jack and Bob Wille and he is the fourth player in the history of the school to win four letters in basketball (Joe Thomas, Steve Johnson and Adam Dahlke).
He was named to the NOW Newspapers All-Suburban team for his efforts.
"He became a lot better offensively facing the basket," Adams said. "He was good from 15-feet, midrange and in. He was a problem for the defenses. There were times we could isolate him. He was one of our strongest post-up players and we would get some good mismatches around the basket.
"I always felt that he got into passing as well as receiving. He was always consistent."
Adams also saw a change in Mortag's demeanor as he got older.
"He was pretty quiet, but he even opened up more as a person," Adams said. "This year he was a lot more open and outgoing on and off the court. Really, we're going to miss that guy."
Mortag praised Adams and his teammates.
"He challenges you and makes you work for everything," Mortag said. "We had some really good moments when we played how we knew we could.
"We had fun the whole time - on and off the court."
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