Monthly Archives: February 2017

LANCERS REMAIN AT TOP OF MY RANKINGS, BUT IKE CLOSING IN

Here is a look at my final Brookfield, New Berlin and Wauwatosa Boys Rankings. I don’t base everything on just W-L record or head-to-head. A lot is based on how they are playing now.

Brookfield Central (20-2, 12-2, first) – The Lancers beat out New Berlin Eisenhower for the top spot, losing their finale to Menomonee Falls, 82-65, snapping a 10-game losing streak. There are worst things than losing a game before the playoffs, but it was the way they lost that was disappointing.

New Berlin Eisenhower (17-5, 12-4, second) – Coach David Scheidegger said people won’t want to play his team by the time the playoffs began and the veteran coach is right. The Lions have won 10 in a row and are 14-1 in their last 15 games. They are just a notch behind Central, the second-ranked team in the state coming into the week.

Wauwatosa East (12-10, 10-4, second) – Coach Tim Arndorfer’s Red Raiders are third because of their Greater Metro Conference record and finish. They are 2-6 outside of league play. The Red Raiders play good defense and have 9 players scoring between 4.4 and 10 points a game.

Wauwatosa West (12-10, 8-8, fourth) – The Trojans have too much talent to have such a disappointing record. They have lost 2 of 3 games going into the playoffs and they were 0-6 vs. Pewaukee, Eisenhower and Pius XI, the three teams above them in the West. Against the winning Woodland East teams they were 1-2, giving them a 1-8 record against winning conference teams.

Brookfield East (11-11, 7-7, fourth) – A tip of the cap to new coach Joe Rux, who had only one senior starter along with three sophomores and a junior freshman to work with. The Spartans were 4-20 and 0-14 last year.

New Berlin West (9-13, 3-13, sixth) – Coach Brandon Mattox continues to rebuild the Vikings program. They improved their overall record (5-19) from last year but their conference mark remained the same. They have not beaten a Woodland West team in a few years. Junior Joe Robey and freshman Desmond Polk give West a talented duo to continue the rebuild.

WEST’S HUNTER PIPIK BRINGS LEADERSHIP, TOUGHNESS TO VIKINGS

WEST'S HUNTER PIPIK BRINGS LEADERSHIP, TOUGHNESS TO VIKES




In basketball, some teams have an enforcer, a tough guy who does the dirty work. For New Berlin West, senior Hunter Pipik plays that role.

Pipik, a 6-foot, 3 inch, 220-pound forward, is wrapping up his third season on the varsity for Coach Brandon Mattox. Off the court he brings leadership to a young team. On the court, you will find him in the paint, boxing out and getting rebounds for his teammates, while also guarding the opponent's best scorer.

In the spring, Pipik turns in his basketball for a golf club for the Vikings and is one of the better golfers in the league. In fact he received a scholarship to play golf at Division 2 Lewis University next year.

It's not surprising that Pipik is so talented in golf, since his family lived on a golf course in when they lived Edgerton.

"It was right in my backyard," Hunter said. "I got to do it whenever I wanted. That really became a passion for me. Every summer, every day with my brother Drew (currently a junior at Carthage College). It has been our passion ever since."

Pipik was quick to compare golf to basketball.

"Golf is an individual sport, so you're by yourself. It's more of a mental thing," he said. "It's your fault (or credit) no matter what. And it's something you can play for a lifetime.

"In golf you forget about that last shot and move on to the next. In basketball it's actually kind of similar there, but there is so much more than that goes into basketball; so much more game-time adjustments that you have to take into account. So many different variables."

Pipik made it to sectionals as a sophomore and a junior. He has his sights set on state this spring.

Photo by Tom "Sky" Skibosh

Hunter is one of three players to play every game through the first 19 games. He is first in total points (10.6 points per game) and rebounds (7.6), shoots over .500 from the field and is third on the team in 3-pointers and steals.

Pipik has 28 more defensive rebounds than his next closest teammate and he brings a toughness to the Vikings.

"My rebounding is a strength and I've developed a better shot in the last season and a half or so. I think that helps us improve," he said. "I'm more of a defensive rebounder. I go in for offensive boards, but I like to work on the defensive end - getting position. That's what I really excel at. I'm not a big guy so I can't really jump over anybody. But when I get in position it's tough to get around me."

But Hunter would like to improve his quickness and his ball handling.

"I need to get quicker with my feet because I'm a little undersized for a post player," he said. "I need to improve my dribble because if I work on my handles, I will be able to play on the perimeter even more."

Pipik knows what his role is on this club.

"I'm the guy who can bring the aspect of toughness and physical presence and make sure the other team knows that they're not going to get it easy," he said. "As well as knocking down a few key shots when my number is called upon."

Mattox talked about Pipik's attitude and how he knows what he can and can't do.

"First of all, his intensity. He isn't scared of anybody," he said. "He matched up with Alou Dillon (of Wauwatosa West) - Alou probably has 6-7 inches on him - but Hunter is going to work. So he is going to make it tough on Alou. It's just that competitive nature that he has, his personality and his leadership.

Not to toot his horn too much, but he’s probably one of the hardest working kids on the west side. The thing I was most impressed with right away was his work ethic. In practice it was so obvious he was a hard-working kid, we had to reward that.”

Coach Brandon Mattox

"He's not the most overly-skilled basketball player, but he will be the hardest worker. He knows how to uses his skill set to be effective. Which I think makes him a very effective basketball player. He doesn't try to do things which are not in his wheelhouse. He stays with what he knows and what can work for him."

Mattox remembers when he first met Hunter at an open gym his sophomore year.

"It was the summer of my first year here. He walked in the open gym, a broad shoulder kid, solid," he said. "He explained to me they were moving to West (from Edgerton). I met his dad (Gary) that day. I was excited for him to be here."

Mattox talked about his first impression of Hunter - off as well as on the court.

"I didn't know what kind of player he was, but he was the kind of kid who would shake you hand and look you in the eyes, very respectful," he said. "I was excited about that."

One of the phrases that comes out a lot when talking to Pipik and Mattox is 'work ethic.'

"Not to toot his horn too much, but he's probably one of the hardest working kids on the west side," Mattox said. "From point A to point B to where he is now. I'll put that up against anybody. The thing I was most impressed with right away was his work ethic. He's a kid who consistently puts the work in, so to see him progress over that sophomore year and then realize we needed his physicality on the glass, he constantly got better and better. He literally got to the point that I had to play him. In practice it was so obvious he was a hard-working kid, we had to reward that."

Pipik first started playing basketball as a first-grader playing on a short-handed fourth-grade team coached by his father.

"I liked the contact," he said about why he stayed with basketball. "I liked how you can be physical, but you didn't need any protective gear. I feel I bring a little physicality. That's what I've always gone for."

Pipik and Zach White, captains the past two years, and Joe Robey, a junior, were voted this year's captains.

As much as he provides on the basketball court, Hunter adds even more off it. When asked what he felt his major strength was he had an interesting answer.

"Besides bringing the thing of toughness to the table, my leadership," he said. "I think that's really important. We as a team need that to an extent. I like to lead by example. I also like to lead with words, but I do it better when I'm out on the court demonstrating what I want done as a captain and a leader."

Pipik also talked about his communication skills when he comes to help out his teammates.

"I definitely try and give them some pointers," he said. "I know the people I can get after a little bit. I can say 'You need to be doing this.' And I also know the people I can say 'Hey. It's all right. You can do better next time. And you will. Just try and work on this a little bit.'

"I handle them differently because their personalities are all different. I try to help the younger guys on our team, especially (point guard) Desmond (Polk). He's a freshman, he's an outstanding talent. I try to help him the best I can."

Mattox spoke about versatility when asked about Hunter's leadership skills.

"He's like a golfer - a jack of all trades - he can chip, he can putt and he can drive the ball. He can do it in a variety of ways," he said. "That's something we talked about earlier in the year. Knowing which guys you can get on verbally. Which guys you need to pick up. He's amazing with that as far as that.

Photo by Tom "Sky" Skibosh

"He's a natural leader as far as guys gravitating towards him. He's very aggressive so initially as a sophomore he was barking at these guys and some of the guys didn't know how to take that. He would say 'Hey coach, he's not working hard.' And he (the player) wasn't working hard. So we would say 'What are we going to do. So he has changed his approach and a lot of that is just maturity on him.

"He'll think 'I want to win and I want to do X, Y, Z. So when I'm working with this guy, how can I change it. It's working with this guy, so I going to maintain it.' That's a big thing with him."

Pipik talked about how Mattox's is message is starting to get through to his team since Hunter first got here as a sophomore.

"It seems more like a family this year - I know that sounds like a cliché - but it really does," Pipik said. "We all like each other. The rebuilding process, he (Mattox) has a lot of plans for what he wants to do - we have a lot of future coming up - we're just trying to get the ship righted for them coming.

"He's definitely a people-person. He knows how to handle people. He knows what they're thinking and he knows how to treat them. I think that's really important and a good quality that he has."

Mattox talked about his seniors who have been with him and how much they mean to the program.

"He (Pipik) is part of that senior group that came in when I came in. I'm very connected with that group - Matt Obradovich, Fred Cottrell, Zach White. That group is very special to me long term career-wise. I will always be in their lives whether they like it or not.

"Hunter is part of that leadership group - we talk constantly about changing the culture here at West, he's a big piece of that for us."

QUESTIONS FOR HUNTER PIPIK

  • FAVORITE FOOD: Nachos
  • FAVORITE MUSIC/GROUP:  Hip-Hop and Rock
  • FAVORITE MOVIE:  Stepbrothers, Comedies.
  • FAVORITE TV SHOW: Two and One-Half Men.
  • FAVORITE CLASS: History.
  • FAVORITE PLACE YOU VISITED: Pittsburgh
  • WHAT DO YOU DO TO RELAX?  Play Xbox with friends, quality family time.
  • FAVORITE SPORTS RIVALRY/ATHLETE:  New Berlin Eisenhower.
  • MOST MEMORABLE SPORTS MOMENT:  Hole-in-One in a tournament junior year at Lawsonia.
  • WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO DO IN THE FUTURE? Attend Lewis University and play Division 2 golf.  Major in Business Management.

















Change at top of my teams girls rankings

Here is my final New Berlin-Brookfield-Tosa girls rankings.

 

  1. New Berlin Eisenhower (17-5, 14-2, tied for first) – I’m giving the Lady Lions a slight edge because they just beat their crosstown rival on Friday and they are hotter than New Berlin West having won their final 8 games.
  1. New Berlin West (19-3, 14-2, tied for first) – The Lady Vikings have the best overall record of my ladies’ teams, but they’ve lost 2 of their final 3 games. They have the top seed in the post-season and might have an easier road – if there is such a thing.
  1. Brookfield Central (14-8, 10-4, tied for second) – Coach Mallory Liebl has done a fantastic job of keeping this banged up team together during an emotional season. They finished the season 9-1 and could easily have had a 10-game win streak.
  1. Wauwatosa East (16-6, 8-6, fourth) – The Red Raiders closed out with 4 wins in 5 games, but they helped their record with an 8-0 non-conference record. Brooklyn Blackburn has been on fire lately.
  1. Brookfield East (11-11, 6-8, sixth) – A talented team without a senior means good things next season. But they were a little disappointing this season. Coach Michael Goodman needs to find a true point guard.
  1. Wauwatosa West (8-14, 5-11, fifth) – Coach Gordon Nikolic has had a fine first season changing the culture for the Trojans.

 

 

 

 

EISENHOWER’S SULLIVAN KULJU MAIN MAN IN MIDDLE

EISENHOWER'S SULLIVAN KULJU MAIN MAN IN THE MIDDLE




New Berlin Eisenhower senior forward Sullivan Kulju never wanted people to tell him the only reason he was good was because he was tall. So he has worked hard his entire career to show them he was the total package.

"It helped being so big early on," he said. "I just thought with other kids my height I wanted to prove I was good from an early age. I was always working hard on my skills.

"I hate it when people say 'You're just good because you're tall.' So from an early age on it's been a big thing to not just be tall but to be able to do as many things as I can."

There is no doubt the lanky Kulju - who is 6-feet, 6 inches tall - is the total package. Whether tipping in a rebound, driving the lane or dropping in a 3-pointer, Sully's game keeps getting better.

Kulju was lucky because he was able to grow into his length growing up.

"It kind of bummed me out (at first)," he said. "I never got to hit that big growth spurt. I kind of always steadily grew. Which looking back on it, it was a good thing because I never had to grow into my body. I got kind of lucky to just gradually grow."

Photo by Alan Herzberg, SportsPhotos LLC

Eisenhower's veteran coach Dave Scheidegger remembers seeing Kulju in the Lions kids programs.

"He was on our third-fourth grade select teams," he said. "We run camps here and he has always been to all the camps. I've known Sully since he was a little tyke. But then he has never really been little at any age."

Scheidegger talked about what drew him to Kulju.

"First thing you see with Sully is a love of movement," he said. "A love of playing. He loves to compete and he just has the drive and the passion that is easy to see right away."

Kulju is a two-sport star for the Lions, having a nice fall season with the football team as a wide receiver, earning honorable mention honors. But he didn't play the skill positions growing up because of his size.

"I played for the first time in third grade," he said. "I played tackle. Before that I played flag. I was a right guard and a defensive tackle.

"I love the atmosphere, the energy and the passion of a football game. It's just different than basketball. It's so smash mouth. It's a lot of fun. I love football."

Coach Matt Kern talked about Sully's improvement on the football field.
"We knew because of his size, he was a unique challenge to other teams," he said. "We had to decided where he fit into our schemes. He was a potential big-play guy, a red-zone guy and he had great rapport with Bryce.

"His role reflected a lot with the growth of our team. We used him more in the short passing game last year. He was very underrated with his hands. We were absolutely 100 percent pleased with his play."

But basketball is his bread and butter - he was honorable mention as a sophomore and second-team all-conference as a junior. This year he is averaging 15 points and 5 rebounds per game and he actually is second in 3-pointers.

He likes the ball – the responsibility to score the ball is a main one. And not everyone wants that responsibility. Sully cherishes it, loves it. That’s huge!”

- Coach Dave Scheidegger

And with the game on the line, he wants the basketball, something some basketball players run away from.

"His true natural strength is his ability to score," Scheidegger said. "He likes the ball - not every player does - and he is not afraid of the responsibilities either. You know some guys are good rebounders, some guys play good defense, but the responsibility to score the ball is a main one. And not everyone wants that responsibility. Sully cherishes it, loves it. That's huge!

"Let's face it, you need kids on your team that think 'score.' You can always scale down, but I don't think coaches give confidence. The players have to build their own confidence. Coaches support, but the ultimate turning the corner, that player has to make that decision himself whatever it is."

Sully is very aware of what he can do and what he needs to do to get better.

"My strength is being close to the basket and use my quick first step," he said. "And my shot's gotten better. But my ball handling and shooting can always get better to be more consistent. And I always need to work on defense and conditioning. Those are two big things."

Scheidegger sees big things for Kulju down the road.

"Let nature take its course," he said. "As he moves on, he can fill out a little bit. Like all the players, getting stronger in the weight room. You see the bodies on these guys. It's the bigger, faster, stronger thing.

"How big and strong can you do with what nature gave you. Now it's what can you do to make it better. But that's every athlete, especially for those athletes who move on in the sport."

Kulju has some very simple, but positive goals coming into the season.

"My goal every year is to be better than we were last year," he said. "Be more efficient, more effective. I wanted to get my assist numbers up. I want to get a big playoff run. That's the whole point of the season and everything. All those numbers and everything, they don't mean anything if you can't get past the first round.

"Everyone is feeling good right now. It's fun to come to practice, everyone has a good attitude and we're playing really well right now. We knew it would happen and it's happening right now which is good."

The Lions have gotten their act together as a team at the start of January, winning 12 of their last 13 games, including their last 8 in a row with games against New Berlin West (Feb. 17) and South Milwaukee (Feb. 22) left.

Kulju and Miller have formed a devastating scoring duo during this latest drive - Mr. Inside and Mr. Outside. Miller averaged an outstanding 19.8 points and Kulju 14.5.

"I love Bryce. He's a great kid and a really great player," Sully said. "When he gets hot, that just helps everyone. People are running out at him and people are forgetting about me. It opens things up in the middle. I love assists. That's probably the most fun, kicking the ball out and we hit a 3. That's a big momentum play. That's fun."

Photo by Alan Herzberg, SportsPhotos LLC

Kulju and point guard Sam Hluchnik are team captains, something Sully takes pride in.

"I do feel I'm a good leader. I wanted to be captain for a long time," he said. "It's been a goal of mine ever since I joined the team my freshman year. So to finally fill that leadership role and have more responsibility; it's a pressure, but a good pressure.

"To have people look to you, vote you to be a captain. It's a really big honor. I have a good relationship with all the guys on the team. It's a mutual respect kind of thing. They'll tell me if I'm doing something, just like I can get on them."

Scheidegger likes what he sees from Sully's progress when it comes to being a leader.

"He started a little slow, but the ownership is happening," he said. "The trust and the sincerity of players has to be there between everybody for you to play good basketball. That comes from all players, but that's coming from Sully. And usually in most sports, your best athlete needs to be your best character guy. You see it in Aaron Rodgers, but you see it with some bad examples in college and pros.

"But Sully has been a good role model. As we've improved here, he's bought in, he understands everything - he's been with us for a while - and of course the kids look to him. They voted him a captain. He has progressed very nicely as we went up and down in this season."

QUESTIONS FOR SULLIVAN KULJU

  • FAVORITE FOOD: Mom's macaroni & cheese
  • FAVORITE MUSIC/GROUP:  Reggae
  • FAVORITE MOVIE:  Pulp Fiction, Dazed & Confused. Action.
  • FAVORITE TV SHOW: Entourage
  • FAVORITE CLASS: Math
  • FAVORITE PLACE YOU VISITED:  Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
  • WHAT DO YOU DO TO RELAX?  Watch Netflix.
  • FAVORITE SPORTS RIVALRY/ATHLETE:  Pewaukee
  • MOST MEMORABLE SPORTS MOMENT:  Triple Overtime game with Brown Deer as a junior.
  • WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO DO IN THE FUTURE? Major in Business Management and play basketball. Still looking at colleges.

















If Ted Thompson doesn’t adjust, the Super Bowl is just a dream

The off-season is here and you will find Ted Thompson at the Combine Feb. 28-March 6. That’s where he will get a first-hand look at all the top prospects available in the April 27-29 NFL Draft. Of course, Thompson will draft and/or sign players who aren’t at the combine because that is one of his strengths.

But if the Packers are going to be a Super Bowl candidate in 2017, Thompson needs to do more if the Packers are going to do more than win another division title. The more important date to look at is Thursday, March 9, when free agency begins.

Ted usually looks to re-sign his own free agents and I agree with that if they are worth signing – and the price is right. Let’s take a look at who I think is worth re-signing and some of the free agents who would make the Packers a serious Super Bowl contender instead of a pseudo one.

OWN FREE AGENTS

Jared Cook – Hopefully he realizes that Aaron Rodgers is one of the main reasons he played well down the stretch and he doesn’t ask for a ridiculous amount of money. The Packers need a good tight end who can stretch the field to be successful – period.

T.J. Lang – The Packers lack leadership on the offensive line and that is one of the main things Lang provides, along with talent and the ability to play with pain, something some of the other players don’t have. This is an interesting case because of the off-season surgeries he needs. Will someone take a chance and give him a ridiculous offer? If everything is right, this Pro-Bowler needs to be paid.

Nick Perry – When he was healthy he had a solid season and should be re-signed – but only if the price is right. He got after the quarterback and he showed a tremendous amount of courage playing with only one hand.

Micah Hyde – I never thought I would say this, but the Packers need to re-sign him if they don’t go big-time in the FA market. He is the jack-of-all-trades, master of none and their secondary would have been worse that it was without his fine performance. Plus he returns kicks.

Eddie Lacy – How anyone can re-sign someone who blew up like a balloon IN HIS CONTRACT SEASON I will never know. But Thompson will do it if the price is right. It’s moves like this which make me think he is starting to lose his touch. Oh, BTW, he was injured AGAIN.

OTHERS JC Tretter has versatility and he is a must sign if Lang doesn’t. Believe it or not, if the price would be right, I would take Julius Peppers back for his 8 sacks and his leadership. Datone Jones had one more sack than I did this year so why would you re-sign him? Because Ted’s ego would find it hard to cut a former No. 1 instead of what’s doing best for the team.

FREE AGENT MARKET

Thompson is too cheap – yes that is the correct word – to sign a FA who would help get the Packers over the top. Yet every year they have salary cap money left over. Some of the more reasonable FA’s that would be available, but I couldn’t see TT doing anything but watching them sign with other teams.

CORNERBACKS – A.J. Bouye (Texans), Trumaine Johnson (LA Rams), Stephon Gilmore (Buffalo)

DEFENSIVE LINE – Calais Campbell (Arizona), Syl Williams (Denver).

LINEBACKER – Don’t’a Hightower (New England).

TALK IS CHEAP

From Mark Murphy down to Mike McCarthy, the Packers sell their naïve fans on their goal is the Super Bowl every year. They have what I feel is the best QB in the league skills-wise in Aaron Rodgers, yet they have one Super Bowl with him at the helm.

Now please understand, I don’t wear green & gold glasses, but I’m a Milwaukee season ticket holder, and I hope they win the Super Bowl every year.

But while most fans get excited about their 8 division titles – who cares!  I’m more disappointed in the 1 Super Bowl.

Why? Because I do not feel they do what they can every season to try and get better.

I’m hoping that changes.

Lady Vikings, Lancers leading my girls, boys rankings

GIRLS

New Berlin West (18-2, 13-1, first) – Pewaukee blew away the Lady Vikings and snapped a 16-game win streak. There are worst things that losing a game before the post-season.

New Berlin Eisenhower (14-5, 12-2, second) – Julia Hintz has carried the Lady Lions during their 5-game win streak.

Brookfield Central (11-7, 8-4, third) – 6-game win streak and senior forward Leah Swenson has stepped up last 6 games (11.3 points).

Brookfield East (10-10, 5-7, tied for fifth) – Have won 2 of their last 3 games. Need to get their act together before playoffs start.

Wauwatosa East (13-6, 6-6, fourth) – The Red Raiders have lost 4 of 5 games, but they should sweep their final three games if they play well. Johanna Taylor and Brooklyn Blackburn need a third offensive wheel for this team to be successful.

 Wauwatosa West (8-12, 5-9, fifth) – The Trojans have doubled their win total and have already won 2 more conference games than last year under new coach Gordon Nikolic. Working on a 3-game win streak.

BOYS

Brookfield Central (17-1, 10-1, first) – There is a different hero every night as the Lancers carry a 7-game winning streak going into their final 4 games. Andres Peralta-Werns and Cole Nau have led the way lately.

New Berlin Eisenhower (13-5, 9-4, third) – Dave Scheidegger said teams wouldn’t want to play his Lions before the season ends and he has been correct. Ike has won 6 in a row and 10 of 11 behind the efforts of Bryce Miller and Sullivan Kulju.

 Wauwatosa East (9-9, 7-4, third) – You never know what Red Raiders team will show up. They have gone 3-4 in the last 7 games with wins over Brookfield East, Menomonee Falls and Marquette. They have a winnable schedule in the next few weeks. Tosa East needs a go-to guy, which they don’t have.

Brookfield East (8-9, 6-5, fourth) – The Spartans youth is showing through as they have dropped 4 of 6 games, losing to a West Allis Central team they should have beaten last time out.

Wauwatosa West (10-8, 6-6, fourth) – The Trojans have lost 4 of 6 games and need to stop pointing fingers and start playing as a team under interim coach Pat McCabe. Three of their last four games are against winning teams. Let’s see what they are made of.

 New Berlin West (7-10, 3-10, sixth) – The Vikings will have their hands full in the 4 of the final 5 games (33-16, .673), being the favorite only against Port Washington.

 

Tosa East’s Johanna Taylor earned the nickname ‘Big Mama’

TOSA EAST'S JOHANNA TAYLOR EARNED THE NICKNAME 'BIG MAMA'




There are some tall girls who slouch, don't stand straight up and want to look smaller. Wauwatosa East senior captain Johanna Taylor is not one of them.

Taylor, who along with sensational sophomore Brooklyn Blackburn, are two of the major reasons Tosa East has put together two straight winning seasons.

Taylor is the Red Raiders' center and she stands 6-feet, 2 inches tall, and is second on the team to Blackburn in points (10 points a game) and rebounds (7 a game).

But the reason she is affectionately known as "Big Mama" by her teammates is because of the way she has their backs on defense, averaging almost 3 blocks per game.

"They use the term 'Big Mama,'" Johanna said of her teammates. "I'm the 'Big Mama' on the team. Everyone calls me that. I'm 'The Queen.' It's because I have to always guard the other 'Big Mama's.' I'm the taller kind and there's stockier (girls).

"I wish I was more 'buff.' Just stronger. Sometimes it gets hard with how big other girls can be. But with the strength that I have right now, it's really nice, I can just push people and get in there. But I wish I could be stronger because some girls are.

Photo by Tom "Sky" Skibosh

Taylor talked about her role with the Red Raiders.

"Being the big man. Being strong. Being scary on defense," she said. "A lot of my teammates get scared in practice because they know I'm in the middle. I'm always blocking them, I guess. I get rebounds, get blocks, just do the dirty work inside. I definitely like being inside."

And Johanna, whose dad Wade is 6-4 and mom Laura is 5-7, has always liked being tall. Besides her sister Lydia playing for the girls before her, her brother Caleb played for Tim Arndorfer's boys team.

"I remember being measured on the wall and I was the first person to get to the 5-feet mark. That's how I remember how tall I was back then," she recalled. In the sixth and seventh grade I remember having a bunch of back pain and my mom said 'You're growing.' I kind of looked forward to it. I like being tall."

Johanna talked about learning to adjust to her longer length.

"I think I've always struggled. I've always been a slower person," she said. "I tried to keep up with how fast I was growing. I don't think I've ever gotten used to it."

Tosa East coach Rob Hamill, who also coached Lydia, first saw Johanna in the 7th grade with Longfellow Middle School.

"She was pretty raw," he said. "It was clear she was going to have some size and if she wanted to be a basketball player it could work out. But it was going to take a lot of work.

"In her junior year I was fully confident in her to be an impact player at the varsity level. I really was."

Hamill was pleased with her improvement through her career.

"Every year there's been progress - every year. Her footwork and determination have been noticeablely different this year. Her shot has developed every year as well. This year it's really coming off her hand. She has really good mechanics."

When asked about her strong points, Hamill was quick to rattle them off.

"Using her size inside. Her footwork has given her an advantage she didn't have last year," he said. "She is really concentrating on that stuff. She's been blocking shots more than before. Her anticipation of what her adversary's doing has come a long way."

Taylor almost mirrored her coach's thoughts on her strength.

"I use my length very well," she said. "In blocking I try not to use my body. Just try to stretch as far as I can. Anything I can get. That's what I try to do.

"My footwork is also a strength because in previous years I was too timid and I didn't know how to use my feet in posting to shoot. I've been able to get around people now, use my quickness."

I couldn’t ask for a better leader … Jo is where everything goes – her approach to the team, the emotions of the team. “She steps forward and talks about it. She is proactive rather than reactive.”

- Coach Rob Hamell

As for getting better Hamill didn't see anything major for Johanna to work on.

"She just needs to continue to work on what she has been contributing," he said. "I do wish with she would go to her dominate hand more. She goes to her left a lot."

Taylor did bring up something else she needs to work on.

"I need to work on my speed. I'm not as fast as I could be," she said. "I need to be more confident with dribbling. Not in the post, but if I'm around the 3-point line. I can take a drive. I need to become more confident."

Taylor, who also plays volleyball, said the Red Raiders work on speed drills on 'Workout Wednesdays' and she hopes she continues to improve.

One thing both Hamill and Taylor agreed on is her shooting 3-pointers.

"I don't shoot threes," Johanna laughed. "Coach has a green light and a red light and I'm a red light. I'll take shots outside when I'm open. I'm confident in the shots from about 15 feet - I'm not scared."

Taylor is smart enough to let her teammates handle the threes and she has a part in that.

"Defenses try to double-team me, collapse on me a lot," she said. "I think that having my height and having my strength, really opens up the 3-point line for everyone else. I like getting assists. I think I like getting assists more than scoring."

Taylor worked in the paint by herself last year, but this year has more help from Blackburn and Bueckers, who is also an outstanding soccer athlete.

"Last year I handled it a lot, but this year with Brooklyn ('She's an animal'), it's kind of taken the load off," she said. "Sometimes we fight for rebounds. Sometimes Liz (Bueckers) helps out. She can jump real high."

Taylor feels this season's team is unselfish.

"We like to pass the ball. This year we're a lot more unselfish," she said. "We'll look for the open person. Sometimes it works against us, because we need to be selfish where we have strengths.

"We work really well together. This year we're really good friends. We play basketball and not worry about scoring points. It's how everyone's grown up to be. We have a lot of juniors and they've been working together."

Photo by Tom "Sky" Skibosh


Taylor talked about another important role that goes with being 'Big Mama' and senior captain - leadership.

"I'm very approachable. They enjoy me so they listen to me," she said. "They see me as someone who has experience being on the varsity for three years. I know what I'm talking about. I know how to handle people who are down or something.

"I've always been good at advice. They see me as someone who can help them. Seeing me a someone who can push them and keep everything together."

Hamill is pleased with Taylor's leadership skills and he is happy she takes responsibility that goes with being a captain.

"I couldn't ask for a better leader," he said, pointing out that senior Cora Bilitz and junior Liz Bueckers are also captains. "The two seniors are both good personality-wise. But Jo is where everything goes - her approach to the team, the emotions of the team.

"She steps forward and talks about it. She is proactive rather than reactive. I can't imagine a better kid; mature, ready for the next step in life. Ready to leave high school in a positive way.

"She's the type of kid that anyone would like to have as their own daughter. Strong head on her shoulders. Logical, solid, good sense of humor. Good person to be around."

QUESTIONS FOR JOHANNA TAYLOR

  • FAVORITE FOOD: Tortelleni
  • FAVORITE MUSIC/GROUP:  Alternative
  • FAVORITE MOVIE:  Interstellar, Outer Space Movies.
  • FAVORITE TV SHOW: The Office.
  • FAVORITE CLASS: Sculpture
  • FAVORITE PLACE YOU VISITED: Amsterdam
  • WHAT DO YOU DO TO RELAX?  Lay in bed and draw.
  • FAVORITE SPORTS RIVALRY/ATHLETE:  Wauwatosa West.
  • MOST MEMORABLE SPORTS MOMENT:  Stole the ball in the final seconds to beat Tosa West last year.
  • WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO DO IN THE FUTURE? Attend University of Wisconsin - Madison. or UW-Whitewater. Major in Elementary Education or Art.

















East’s Ben Attenberger could be one of program’s best

EAST'S BEN ATTENBERGER
COULD BE ONE OF PROGAM'S BEST




Things have really turned out well for Brookfield East senior Ben Attenberger, who really didn't like swimming when he first tried it.

"I think the reason why I ended up doing it were my parents were like 'Just try out and do it,' he recalled. "At first I really didn't like it. I just kind of did it because my friends were in it. It was just a fun activity. But then I was progressively getting better at it than all my other sports. I wasn't very good at basketball and soccer. Swimming just kind of took off for me, so that's why I kept doing it."

To say it has worked out well for Ben is an understatement. He received a scholarship to the University of Wisconsin - Madison to swim for the Badgers. Last season as a junior, he finished fourth in the 200 individual medley and fourth in the 100 breaststroke at state and was third in the 200 relay and sixth in the 400 freestyle relay.

As a sophomore he was fourth in the IM and fifth in the breaststroke at state. He is the school record holder in 200 IM and 100 breaststroke as well as part of the school record 200 medley relay. He qualified as part of the 400 free relay as a freshman and finished eighth.

"So far this year he's ahead of our expectations," coach William Twitchell said. "He typically swims strong during the season and then he really comes on at the end. So if he has a similar pattern this year he's in a better position than he's ever been before."

Ben began his swimming career in Michigan, then took it to China and is finishing it in Brookfield.

"We've kind of lived all over the place," he said. "When we lived in Michigan, I started in like a summer league when I was 8 years old. Then we moved to China and we lived there for four years. That's when I started getting better at it.

"I swam with the school and I competed there and I just progressed from there. When we moved to Brookfield I joined the Elmbrook Swim Club."

Photo by Tom "Sky" Skibosh

Twitchell didn't know a lot about Attenberger but he quickly saw he had a special swimmer.

"Pretty much day one," he said. "I found out he came from China and I started asking around. He's a very precise and polished swimmer. That doesn't just happen by accident."

Despite his past success in the 200 IM, Attenberger switched to the 200 free this year, to go along with the 100 breaststroke.

"As much as I liked the 200 IM, I think I have potential to do well in the 200 freestyle," he explained. "Because of the club season, I swam it on a relay once and I actually did really well. I thought I might as well as do it this year, because I don't know what I'm going to do in college except for the 100 and 200 breaststroke. My third event could be the 200 free or the 200 IM, so I thought I might as well try the 200 free."

Attenberger then talked about the different strategy in the 200 IM and the 200 free.

"I've think I've done well it's just kind of a different race," he said. "You can race your opponents differently than doing the 200 IM. The 200 IM is based on what stroke you're good at. I would strategize the different strokes with the power to get ahead. I would power the breaststroke because that's where I would excel at the most.

"The 200 freestyle is a completely different race. I always thought I had a good stroke with it. It's more maintaining the endurance to get through the race. I like the different aspect of that, going in all at once."

I can count on one hand the number of boys he’s in company with. And all of them had great careers and beyond. The future has yet to be seen on where he fits in that pecking order.”

- Coach William Twitchell

Attenberger is ranked third in the state in both events so far this year.

Twitchell talked about why Attenberger is successful in those events.

"He's always been a tactician; he's always swam very smart," the veteran coach said. "So that translates to efficient, which translates to a good race strategy.

"Plus he is also a big strong kid. For a swimmer he's got the prototypical power plant. Big broad shoulders, strong upper body and slender toward the leg. He's like a little Michael Phelps. He's built pretty well."

Ben spoke freely about his strengths and what he needs to get better at.

"I feel I'm strong doing my turns," he said. "I feel my underwater is the best part of my racing. I also feel like my technique is also good. I have a nice look to the stroke. I try to stay within my stroke range. If you're efficient while you are in the water, you will have more endurance for the end of the race."

Ironically, it's the basics that Attenberger feels he needs to work on.

"Some of my basic fundamentals of my swimming are off," he said. "My dives aren't that great. Sometimes I'll take breaths like I don't need to. Basic answer, but I struggle with the basic stuff. You master the things that are harder, but I struggle with the basic stuff."

Twitchell got right to the point when asked about Ben's strengths.

"Consistency of his practice," he said. "Intelligence in his race. His strength. He's a very strong athlete. Very efficient. I think his future is very bright. I don't think we've scratched the surface. Matter of face, I'm quite excited to see what he does at the collegiate level because I don't think we've tapped his real competitive fire.

Photo by Tom "Sky" Skibosh


"I think he will be able to make some big steps at the collegiate level. He's done everything that we asked him. I'd like him to be a little more aggressive but that's just not in his nature. He's a chess master. He thinks one move ahead or two moves ahead. He's not a bull in a china shop."

Ben talked about his thought process when it comes to a race.

"Sometimes I feel pressured to perform against other people," he said. "But I have to realize what's in my capability and what's in my control. What other people are going to do that's their choice. What I'm going to do is my choice. Sometimes I forget that. When I do remember that I swim my best.

"Sometimes I'm competitive and sometimes I'm relaxed. I do feel I'm competitive with myself."

After all this success, Ben talked about his progress this season.

"I'm more motivated than ever," he said. "I'm a Madison commit, so being one of the leaders on the team I have to step up. But we have a lot of leaders on the team - Max Schroeder, Gus Brunette and me. All three of us lead in all different ways. I feel we've stepped up."

Twitchell talked about Ben as a leader.

"Ben is the strong silent type," Twitchell said. "He doesn't seem to be demonstrative with his voice, but he is consistent in his effort, especially in practice and is one of our harder working athletes. Also his race ability. He brings a poise to the competition that maybe some of the other kids don't have."

Twitchell was asked where does Attenberger rank among the all-time swimmers for Brookfield and he admitted the ending is still to be written.

"He's in the top five best athletes in swimming on the boys side," he said. "I can count on one hand the number of boys he's in company with. And all of them had great careers and beyond. The future has yet to be seen on where he fits in that pecking order."

QUESTIONS FOR BEN ATTENBERGER

  • FAVORITE FOOD: Grilled Cheese & Tomato Soup
  • FAVORITE MUSIC/GROUP:  Pop & Rap
  • FAVORITE MOVIE:  Sixth Sense, SciFi, Friday, Comedies & Drama.
  • FAVORITE TV SHOW: Modern Family
  • FAVORITE CLASS: Marketing
  • FAVORITE PLACE YOU VISITED: Tanzania, Africa
  • WHAT DO YOU DO TO RELAX?  Watch TV.
  • FAVORITE SPORTS RIVALRY/ATHLETE:  Arrowhead.
  • MOST MEMORABLE SPORTS MOMENT:  Going to state as a freshman.
  • WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO DO IN THE FUTURE? Attend University of Wisconsin - Madison. Swim for the Badgers. Go into Business School (Marketing).

















Lancers still first in my boys poll, New Berlin schools heating up

  1. Brookfield Central (15-1, 8-1) – Central defeated Germantown and West Allis Central as Gage Malensek scored 33 and 29 points. West Allis Hale and Marquette is next on the schedule.
  2. New Berlin Eisenhower (11, 7-4) – Ike has won 4 in a row and 7 of 8 games, defeating Shorewood, Wauwatosa East and Greenfield last week. Bryce Miller (75 points) and Sullivan Kulju (52 points) led the way. Cudahy and Pius XI are coming up.
  3. Wauwatosa West (9-7, 5-5) – West crushed Cudahy but was clobbered by Brown Deer. Alou Dillon had 22 points and 9 rebounds while John Frank had 7 rebounds, 6 assists and 4 steals in the win. Dillon (25) and Tyrone Powell (23) scored big in the loss to the Flacons. Whitnall and Greendale are next.
  4. Wauwatosa East (8-8, 6-3) – The Red Raiders lost two of their last three games, losing Brookfield Central and New Berlin Eisenhower but defeating rival Marquette, 55-54. Nobody scored above 10 points in the two losses and NO stats were available online in the win over MUHS. Falls and Sussex Hamilton are next on the schedule.
  5. Brookfield East (7-8, 5-4) – The Spartans lost a close game to Menomonee Falls, 74-70, as Patrick Cartier had 26 points and Jake Graf had 18 to lead the scoring. Next up is Sussex Hamilton and West Allis Central.
  6. New Berlin West (7-8, 3-8) – Despite the loss of sophomore point guard Joe Robey to a leg injury, the Vikings have pulled together and won 3 in a row last week over South Milwaukee, Holmen and Shorewood. Hunter Pipik had 44 points and Fred Cottrell had 39 points in 3 games and freshman Desmond Polk had 27 vs Shorewood. Greenfield and Pewaukee are next for the Vikings.