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Notes on a championship weekend

March 11, 2013

A small fraternity just got a little larger at Germantown.

But since boys basketball coach Steve Showalter won his second WIAA state hoops championship Saturday, he and Dick Zache (the 1992 and 1993 girls swim teams) and Phil Datka (the 1998 and 2003 football teams) will have to now come up with secret passwords and highly symbolic handshakes to celebrate their little group.

Because they are the only coaches in Germantown history to have led two teams to the pinnacle of their respective sports.

"The remarkable thing is," Datka said, "is how easy they made it look with a target on their back every week. They'd been ranked number one since the first week and kept it going all season. … They're just so athletic and so fast and someone like Luke (center and state player of the year) Fischer is a once-in-a-lifetime sort of player.

"And they're set for next year, too. They have that nice group of juniors, (Evan) Wesenberg, (Jon) Averkamp, Jake (Showalter) and the others."

For Zache, who still teaches at the high school, there was a funny moment at Friday's pep assembly before the team took off for Madison.

"One of the assistant principals asked a group of us (teachers) 'Who's won a state title,' " chuckled the veteran swim mentor, "but this is nice. There's the three of us, but it could have been more. Rich Anderson (former softball coach and 1996 state champ) came close a second time and always had good groups.

"But I'm just so happy for Steve and his guys. It's just extraordinary to be able to do it again and to do it in undefeated fashion with a lot of different guys (on this year's team). I know he's fortunate to have great assistants and they're blessed with great talent, but that is still hard to do."

Zache knows what its like to come back and repeat a title. He notes that after the Warhawks won the state D2 swim title in 1992, basically nothing more was said about next year's meet until the team got there.

"You don't focus on that (state) on a day-to-day basis," he said. "You just try to prepare for the season and just try to get the kids to improve on where they were.

"Each day, each week, the kids do know the end objective, but you have to take care of other things first. You do that and the rest will take care of itself.

"But how great is this right now?"

"It's just a heck of an accomplishment," Datka said.

More notes from Madison

For Germantown's only two other seniors aside from Fischer, reserve guards Jordan Kuczynski and Kendall Miller, the tournament was nothing but a wonderful ride. Kuczynski played a valuable eight minutes against North and made both shots, including a well-timed 3-pointer, and as noted in another story, the 5-6 Miller had a marvelous bow-out to basketball in the final, hitting two 3-pointers in just three minutes of play.

"Friday night was pretty special for me," Kuczynski said. "You watch Badger games on TV from there (the Kohl Center). Then you get there and you look around and see all the people. It really adds a lot to the experience. … I couldn't hide my smile when I hit that three."

For Miller, who got a friendly, laughing noogie from his good pal Fischer on the podium after hitting the two threes in the final, it was also a special moment.

"I looked for my Mom," he said, "and she was smiling."

The banner at Whitefish Bay Dominican High School reads something to the effect "State record 62 wins in a row," but according to Mark Miller of the Wisconsin Basketball Yearbook the actual number for Dominican on those Don Gosz- and Greg Dandridge-led teams from 1977-80 is 71 in a row.

That is because St. Thomas More, which beat Dominican in an overtime thriller to have originally snapped the streak at 62, was discovered to have used an ineligible player and so that game was forfeited. Dominican then went on to win eight more games in a row before the streak was officially snapped.

According to Showalter, the 62 number is the one that the school (Dominican) recognizes.

The Wisconsin Mr. Basketball award was a humbling experience for Fischer considering the competition. That's because in his preseason predictions, Miller of the Basketball Yearbook predicted that this would be a banner year for boys basketball in Wisconsin with anywhere from 16 to 18 players getting consideration for NCAA Division I scholarships. Onalaska's Matt Thomas, Dominican's Duane Wilson, Vincent's Deonte Burton, La Crosse Aquinas's Bronson Koenig and Sun Prairie's Nick Fuller were also in the running for the award.

Fischer, also a unanimous WBCA All-State selection, was joined on that team by Warhawks point guard Lamonte Bearden and shooting guard Jake Showalter, both of whom were honorable mention selections.

Fischer was also named MVP of the entire five-division state tournament according to a poll of writers covering the event. Jake Showalter also made the 10-man list, which included Wilson and Diamond Stone of D4 champion Dominican, and Dominic Cizauskas of Germantown's finals opponent Mukwonago.

In the house for state this weekend was Germantown's original stud center, two-time NOW Player of the Year and Loyola of Chicago great Ben Averkamp, who recently went over 1,000 points and 500 rebounds for his career at Loyola and who will graduate this spring. He was recently named NCAA Second team Academic All-American.

The Warhawks recently finished ranked second in Max Preps Xcellent 25 National Basketball rankings to Lone Peak (Highland), Utah, that state's class 5A champions. It's a thought coach Showalter finds hard to wrap his head around.

"To be ranked in the country is just unbelievable for the team and the program," he said. "It's a real tribute to what we've been doing to build things here."

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