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Volleyball and basketball in Germantown: It's all one big happy family

Both programs' success is celebrated

Nov. 12, 2012

The intersection of volleyball and basketball was almost made physical Friday night late in Germantown's WIAA state boys volleyball quarterfinal match loss to eventual state champion Appleton North at Wisconsin Lutheran College.

It came when Germantown's 6-11 first-team all-state opposite hitter Luke Fischer made an absolutely terrific belly flop, laid-out-to-the-max fist dig to keep a rally alive for the Warhawks.

That he made the play just a couple of feet in front of his basketball coach and Germantown Christmas Parade grand marshal Steve Showalter was not lost on him or anyone else for that matter.

"Hey, it was still volleyball season," the Indiana basketball recruit Fischer said. "I wanted to give it my all for the team."

And Showalter, whose defending WIAA State Division 1 boys basketball championship team began practice last week without five players including key cogs such as Fischer, his son, Jake Showalter, and Jon Averkamp because of the success of the volleyball team, wouldn't have had it any other way.

"No, I didn't see my season flashing before me (when Fischer hit the deck)," coach Showalter said with a laugh of Fischer's all-state caliber play. "I've been watching him do stuff like that all fall. He's just come an amazingly long distance (in volleyball) considering he just started it about a year ago. He's just so athletic and can do so many things."

Warhawks ranked No. 1

Fischer, who is the fifth-ranked prep basketball player in the state this year, is one of the primary reasons why the Wisconsin State Basketball Yearbook gave the defending champion Warhawks its pre-season No. 1 ranking.

He laughs when it's suggested that despite his basketball committal to Indiana (which Sports Illustrated gave the pre-season No. 1 collegiate ranking too in its cover story last week), that big-time volleyball colleges should be sending him batches of mail, trying to change his mind and his sport.

After all, the worst he can do to them is to say no.

Fischer signed his letter of intent to attend and play basketball for Indiana this week.

As noted before, it's been a happy intersection for the Warhawks volleyball and basketball teams these last few years. Fischer, Jake Showalter, Averkamp and all-state volleyball honorable mention selection Zak Showalter led the Germantown netters to their first-ever WIAA state tournament berth and a slot in the state semifinals in 2011.

Zak was later the leader of the state championship basketball team and a first-team all-state selection in hoops. He made an impressive debut for the Wisconsin basketball team on Sunday, with five points, three rebounds, two assists and one steal in just nine minutes of the Badgers' win over Southeast Louisiana.

His former coach and dad Steve Showalter said that Zak is working hard in practice at both the point and shooting guard positions.

"Dad" Showalter finds some pleasant serendipity in the rise of both the basketball and volleyball programs at Germantown.

Team has jelled

"It's like Brian (volleyball coach Rushmer) said the other week about at first having a bunch of basketball players try to play volleyball but now noting that they're a real volleyball team," he said. "That team has jelled so well together. They play so well as a unit. They have great focus and that's fun to watch."

And it's clear that those kids are having a good time playing their new found sport.

"We all know basketball can be hard work," Steve Showalter said. "So it's like Jon (Averkamp) said (about volleyball) 'We're just having fun out there.' That's what makes them so enjoyable to watch."

The pressure of repeating will be on the Warhawks as they look to pull off a rare state basketball repeat this winter, but those players (along with other volleyball veterans turned basketball players Troy Thompsen and Brian Studer) can now enjoy these volleyball memories for a full year.

Averkamp has become so adept at his new sport that Steve Showalter said he wouldn't be surprised if Averkamp has to make a hard collegiate decision between playing hoops or volleyball when he moves on in the fall of 2014.

"He's so good in both right now," Showalter said.

Interestingly enough, the basketball/volleyball intersection had another local tie last weekend when the tourney came to Wisco. Senior setter and all-around Connor Gross earned state player of the year honors in leading Appleton North to an unbeaten state title.

Gross is the son of former Menomonee Falls North basketball star and 2011 Falls Athletic Hall of Fame inductee Dave Gross who could be seen happily following his son on his road to success all weekend.

As for Rushmer, who has benefitted from all this basketball-turned-volleyball integration, he couldn't be happier for his players, especially Fischer.

"Luke is everything that you could ask for in a kid," Rushmer said. "He's a heck of a student, a great athlete and a good person to boot. It's been a privilege to have had him in the program."

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