Sussex - Jim Lawinger wasn't surprised to gain induction into the Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame.
Lawinger, the pride of Platteville High School, will be inducted as a player later this season, and for good reason. He set all kinds of state records that still stand from the late 1960s, long before his career path intertwined with Sussex Hamilton High School.
The school's current softball coach was the leading scorer at the 1967 WIAA state basketball tournament, tossing in 78 points. He made 39 free throws in the tournament and knocked down 11 consecutive shots from the foul line while attempting the most freebies ever in three games (48). All are records that stand today in the WIAA tourney handbook.
Lawinger led the state in scoring in 1967 with 696 points and set the all-time scoring record at Platteville High School with 1,121 points - also a mark that currently exists.
When he wasn't dominating action on the hardwood, he was busy winning state track meets, high school baseball championships and catching 99-yard touchdown passes. He was a two-time state track champion in the 800-yard run in 1965 and 1966, second in the 440 in 1967 and the broad jump in 1966. An honorable mention all-state football player as an end in 1966, he lettered 14 times as a prep athlete.
"I really wasn't surprised, given the fact that they haven't put a lot of people from the southwestern part of the state up for the Hall of Fame," Lawinger said. "Several people told me my name would come up eventually, but that doesn't mean I'm not honored by this selection."
Lawinger said one of the keys to his success in basketball was the system an up-and-coming coach, Royce Reeves, brought to Platteville High School in the late 1950s.
"He had his theory about the game," Lawinger said. "He put his best player in the post, no matter what size that player was, and worked off him. I played my sophomore year, and we had a great player in the post. My junior year we had Gary Poller, an All-State player, in there and my senior year, it was my turn. Right place at the right time I guess, but it fit my game well."
Lawinger said his ability to use his quickness allowed him to excel with his back to the basket.
"I was very fortunate to play with a lot of very good players," he said.
Then off to college.
Lawinger said he had walk-on invites from large schools like West Virginia, Bradley and the University of Wisconsin, but chose to stay at home.
"It was a tough decision, but I ended up going to UW-Platteville, which turned out to be the right one for me," said Lawinger, who ultimately became the boys basketball coach at Hamilton and led his team to the state tournament. "I got to play three sports in college and never would have had that chance if I went to a bigger school."
Lawinger excelled at the collegiate level in basketball, where he was the career leading scorer. He was the conference 880-yard track champion four years in a row and an NAIA All-American at safety in 1970. He had a free agent tryout with the Dallas Cowboys after his playing days ended in college.
As a coach, he's pretty much done it all there, too. He's coached 32 years of basketball at UW-Platteville, Palmyra, Hamilton and Germantown, including 21 seasons (and five state-tourney appearances) in Sussex. He also has 30 years on the coaching staff of Hamilton's football team, and he's the glue of the girls softball program, having been in charge for 35 seasons and guiding the team to seven state tournament appearances. He also has four years of coaching track and field at HHS.
He has also served for eight seasons as assistant boys coach for Germantown, helping that squad to an undefeated season and Division 1 state championship this past winter. After the team hoisted the gold ball, he was named Assistant Coach of the Year by the WBCA.
Germantown head coach Steve Showalter, who played four years at UW-Platteville as well under current Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan, gave Lawinger high praise for his abilities to work with young athletes.
" 'Louie' has been a great asset to me and our program," Showalter said. "He truly cares about the kids and is a great mentor to me. He's done an excellent job developing successful young men."
Lawinger will be officially inducted at an October banquet in Madison.
Tennis team kicks off
Hamilton's tennis schedule got under way Saturday, with the team playing in a quad at Waukesha West.
The Chargers, a bit short-handed due to spring break and ACT testing, had some new players on the courts.
The Chargers lost against Muskego, 6-0, and New Berlin Eisenhower, 4-3. In the final match, Hamilton defeated Elkhorn 4-3.
Aaron Beck, Prateek Reddy and Michael Banda all won their singles matches against Elkhorn. Connor Davidson and Dan Baker won at No. 1 doubles to give Hamilton the victory. The pair prevailed in a tight match, 6-4, 3-6 (10-3 in the tiebreaker).
"Except for the top spot (No. 1 singles player Aaron Beck), our team will be young and inexperienced this year," HHS coach Alan Schneider said. "Aaron almost qualified for the state individual tournament last year."
Tim Smith, Reddy and Banda figure to hold down the other singles positions from No. 2 to No. 4.
At No. 1 doubles, Dan Baker teams up with Clayton Van Der Linden. The No. 2 team will be Alex Lutze and Andrew Ullmann, and No. 3 play belongs to Cody Neverman and Tad Wiesneski thus far.
"We have a pool of players with similar skills that may also work their way into the varsity lineup sometime this season," Schneider said.
Some other players looking to crack the varsity lineup will be Logan Bobb, Jacob Anderson, Alex Bratzel and Connor Davidson, who have shown strong potential in the first week of practice.
"This will be a unique and exciting season for Hamilton tennis," Schneider said.
Softball splits doubleheader
Hamilton's girls softball team rebounded in the second game on Saturday after losing at Slinger in the opener.
The Chargers got beat, 8-3, in the first game and won in nine innings in the nightcap, 7-6, improving to 2-1 on the season.
Bailee Bobert and Jenny Shernell each had two hits for Hamilton in the first game, where the Chargers committed three errors. Emily Jansen, Sami Williams and Whitney Wnuk scored runs in the opener.
Tori Meyer was the pitcher of record. She gave up nine hits, four walks and six earned runs.
In the second game, head coach Jim Lawinger was pleased with team's ability to hang around.
"We almost lost the game three times, and we almost won it three times," Lawinger said. "We ended up winning it the fourth time in extra innings, so that was encouraging."
The Chargers scored twice in the top of the ninth inning and held Slinger to a solo run. Hamilton outhit the Owls, 12-10, but once again the defense struggled, committing four errors.
Kelsey Mason and Katie Weber each had three hits for Hamilton in the second game. Weber scored three times. Jansen had two hits. Bobert, Jansen, Mason and Shernell all scored one run apiece.
Sydney Sprinkel was the winning pitcher. She worked six 6 2/3 innings in relief of Jansen, allowing six hits, three walks and four earned runs.
At 4:15 p.m. Thursday, the Chargers host Brookfield East at Armory Park. Friday's game sends Hamilton to Wauwatosa East for another Greater Metro Conference assignment with the Red Raiders.
"I think we have the ability to be a pretty good team," Lawinger said. "We need to put some things together to do so."
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