Indians have high hopes for hoops team
Top recruit Tokoto draws a crowd, but team has experience to make a run at state
Menomonee Falls — How high are the expectations this season for the Menomonee Falls boys basketball team?
It was the day before Thanksgiving, people were on the move to celebrate the holiday and still Athletic Director Dave Petroff had to run off additional programs to help accommodate the much larger-than-usual opening night crowd against Oconomowoc on Nov. 25.
That the deep and talented Indians, fresh off their high-flying WIAA sectional finalist season (15-9) of a year ago, didn't disappoint with an 88-39 rout of the Raccoons, just added to the air of anticipation.
"If this keeps up (the large crowds), we might have to go to pre-sales," said a happy Petroff.
The intensity became apparent on Nov. 21 when five key members (John Cording, Conor Cassidy, Joe Henningsen, Max Poeske and Kevin Scroggins) of the Falls WIAA State Division I runner-up football team, which lost in the championship game, 7-0, to Marquette the previous day, walked right into basketball practice ready to go.
"They came in and we went four strong consecutive days before this (the Oconomowoc game)," said Indians coach Ben Siebert. "It's amazing, because the kids know what's at stake. They're happy to make the sacrifice."
And the Indians (1-1) lost none of their ambition just because they dropped a high-profile 65-62 overtime decision to powerful Rufus King in the City/Suburban Classic at Wisconsin Lutheran College on Saturday night.
"We've only had five (days of practice with the full team)," said Siebert, "so just the fact that we competed with a team this good this early was impressive for us. ... It was a really fun game. People were saying it had the feel of a (WIAA) sectional final."
In that game, Adam Rubatt had 18 points while a foul-hindered Jean-Pierre Tokoto had 10, Cording nine and Cassidy eight. They will be at Plymouth at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.
A star in the making
Tokoto, a 6-6 jumping jack of a sophomore who has more high-level Division I collegiate offers than most busy people have numbers in their cell phones, is the primary reason why the Indians are thinking about their first Greater Metro Conference title and their first-ever WIAA state tournament berth.
But he's not the only one, as Falls is loaded with veterans, including seniors such as co-captains 6-2 point guard Cording, 6-0 shooting guard Cassidy and 6-6 center Johnathan Phillips. Other seniors with experience include the 6-0 guard Rubatt, 6-2 forward Poeske, and 6-5 power forward Henningsen.
Other key players include 5-11 sophomore guard C.J. Malone, and juniors 5-7 point guard Jalen Ramey, 6-0 forward Steve Ross and the 5-8 guard Scroggins.
Also on the varsity are 5-11 guard C.J. Dwyer and 6-2 junior forward Bryan Oleszak.
Depth will help
"No doubt our biggest strength this season will be our depth," said Siebert. "… We believe we have 13 people who can contribute. It's a testament to how hard they worked in the off-season."
And Siebert was among the happiest people to fly a little under the radar while practice was just starting and the football team was making its heady run to the finals.
"We knew that the kids we were waiting for were winners," he said.
In the opener, Oconomowoc was short five players for disciplinary reasons. Falls burst out to a 7-0 lead and the closest the margin got was 7-4.
It was 40-20 at the half and a 37-6 run in the middle of the second half took the game from 44-27 to 81-33.
"The kids obviously came in here with a lot of energy," said Siebert.
Falls had 10 different people score led by Rubatt with 12, while Henningsen and Cording had 11 apiece, and Tokoto contributed 10.
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