M&O All-Conference BasketballIssue Date: March 15, 2017
Gruszynski, Heise Head First Team Selections
This season there were many players deserving of first team votes. But one stood out above the rest as one of the absolute best of the 2016-17 M&O basketball season. He is Lena's Connor Heise and he claimed this year's MVP with his aggressive lane driving and deep shooting styles. But Lena has more than just that to be proud of, they also secured a second first team spot with Hunter Borchert.
"I can't thank this years team enough for everything they have done for our program, our school, and our community," said Lena Head Coach Jeff Heimke.
Now anyone who has seen Connor play or played against him knows that he is a player that you can almost always bank on. Whether he makes the points directly or draws a foul on his way in, points almost always follow his trips to the hoop. Not to mention this guy can shoot. His accuracy has helped push Lena to multiple wins. Heise also gets to add his name to 1,000 point Wildcat scorers, an honor he shares with his teammate Borchert.
"Connor is addicted to basketball," said Heimke. "He is in our gym every single morning working on his game. He has spent more time on the court than any player I've ever seen. That hard work and dedication has led to a lot of team and individual success. He broke our school's single season scoring record with 598 points this season, and he did it while shooting 48 percent from the field. That percentage is an amazing stat from a 5-11 point guard."
Next year Heise will be joining the hardwood squad St. Mary's University in Minnesota.
Lena's second first team selection was none other than Hunter Borchert. Those who have played the Wildcats this season are very aware of the multiple threats the Wildcats fielded this year. Another one of those was Hunter Borchert. The guy could just about do it all. He totes a fantastic long range jump shot, a dangerous paint push, a slick baseline scurry and a scary defensive block.
"Hunter became a 4 time all conference selection this season," said Heimke. "The first team pick this season caps off an outstanding career. He has played 1-5 for us and has guarded 1-5 on the defensive end. That speaks volumes about his athleticism at 6-3 and to be able to move that well. His versatility gave us a lot of options on both ends of the court. He also led our team in assists. He has great vision and passing skills."
Borchert ended the year with 16.6 points per game while achieving 8.3 rebounds per game and a team leading 3.7 assists per game.
Peshtigo senior Ryley Demmith was voted onto the M&O conference first-team. Demmith helped lead the Bulldogs to a 17-1 conference record, good for first place, while also going to a regional final game. Averaging a double-double on the season, Demmith led Peshtigo in points with 16.8 per game, rebounds with 10.7 per game, and even assists with 2.6 per game, all while averaging just 0.9 turnovers per game. Bulldog Coach Nate Motkowski described exactly why Ryley was so important to their success.
"Ryley was kind of our guy. Every team has that, and he was our rock. Whether it was points, rebounds, or even defending their best player, we could always count on Ryley and he stepped up every game we asked him to." Motkowski added, "Obviously, he led the team in points and rebounds, but for a guy in his position to lead the team in assists as well, kind of shows you how special of a player he is. Very unselfish, very determined guy that all he cared about was winning the game. He didn't care about numbers, he just cared about doing his part and winning the game."
Peshtigo fans and opponents know that Demmith's internal motor is never less than 110%. The heart, determination, and sheer hustle are a large part of why Demmith was so successful. According to the Peshtigo student section's unofficial stats, Demmith fell to the floor a total of 62 throughout the season, a new career high.
"Ryley has an unorthodox style of playing basketball, but it works. He's just a go-getter and he never quits and that's something you cannot teach. That's something that he's just developed over the years on his own. That's not coaching, that's not teaching, that's just Ryley being a determined and willed player," said Motkowski.
When asked about Demmith's versatility, Motkowski had to praise his hard work throughout his career for the success he has seen of late.
"Ryley had some of our highest shooting percentages at the end of the year which is hard to believe considering he played mostly inside. He, on his own, took it upon himself to get shots up in the gym, work on it, and work on his form. He changed his whole entire shot in pretty much a year a few years back. So, that's all on his own, again, Ryley being Ryley putting in the time and it paid off for him," Motkowski said.
Suring sharpshooter Ryan Mahoney was also named to the M&O all-conference first-team. The junior led the Eagles in scoring at 17.5 per game, which was also good for fifth best in the conference. Mahoney also registered 5.0 rebounds per contest, second on Suring's squad, and led the team in steals per game with 3.0 per game. The Eagles finished with the conference's second best record at 15-3. Mahoney spoke on what an honor it was to be selected to the first-team.
"It is a huge honor to be selected on first-team. I feel honored that the coaches from around the conference feel that I can be named with some of the other top players in the conference," said Mahoney. However, Ryan knew his teammates deserved some of the credit as well. "I think we had a good season, the team meshed together and we played very well as a unit. I also have to thank my teammates for everything they have done. They pushed me every day in practice and they give 100%. I am honored to play with them."
Mahoney's season-high 31 points came at home against the STAA Cavaliers. The 31 points featured 21 first-half points and a total of seven three-pointers.
Joining the list of first teamers is Crivitz's standout board man Travis Giese. Few players this season battled under the boards with as much tenacity as the Wolverine defensiveman. If he was under the hoop, you could almost expect a putback.
"Travis has an unorthodox style that helps him. He does not have the traditional two or three post moves, but instead, scores using multiple moves," said Crivitz Head Coach Jeff Baumann. "Sometimes, he even surprises me with some of the things he does. Travis knows that he still has a lot of work to do with his left hand and with his mid-range jump shot, and I am very confident that he will spend many hours in the gym this summer, working to improve even more. He is not the type of player to be satisfied with where he is at. I am excited for him next year and for what he will contribute as a team player."
Giese ended the season with a 16.6 points per game average while also leading the Wolverines in rebounds per game with 6.5.
"Travis is an exceptionally hard working basketball player. He takes coaching well and he is mature enough to understand that when coaches tell him something, it is not criticism, but instead, suggestions for how to make him a better player," said Baumann. "It was a pleasure to know I could tell Travis something, and he would not ignore it. He would do what I told him the next time down the court."
Baumann went on to further describe what Giese did for his team, that is display power in the paint.
"Travis was one of the few true post players in the conference. He understood that his strength was not shooting from the outside, so he would pass the ball, get position in the paint, and then look to score," said Baumann. "Other players could learn from Travis's discipline. Much of his success can be attributed to the fact that he is fearless even when double and triple-teamed, and he is a relentless offensive rebounder. What he accomplished in the paint is even more impressive when you consider that he is only 6'2" and still had success against players who were taller than him."
The second team for the 2016-17 season was composed of defensive player of the year Joey Bradley of Peshtigo, Niagara's Ethan Blagec, Jack Farley of St. Thomas Aquinas Academy, Chris Geniesse of Suring, Jonathan Massey of Oneida Nation and Coleman's Cole Woulf.
Honorable Mentions were received by Lena's Dalton Anderson, Crivitz's Jakob Voss and Kershaw Stumbris, STAA's Eric Powers and Tyler Stuart, Suring's John Christensen, Gillett's Logan Krause, Coleman's Austin Marquardt, Oneida Nation's Crimsen Powless and Wausaukee's Cody Renikow.
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