HIGH SCHOOL NOTES
For the second year in a row, the Sheboygan Lutheran boys basketball team will not be able to defend its Division 5 state championship.
The Crusaders needed one more win to reach state last year when COVID-19 shut everything down.
This year, the WIAA revised the boys and girls playoff brackets in response to the number of programs that have declared they will not be participating in the postseason this year. As a result, Lutheran was bumped up to Division 4.
However, coach Nick Verhagen’s messages to his players has been the same.
“We just control the controllable,” he said. “We control the things we have the ability to control, and that’s all the stuff that we do in-house. A good example of that is what happened to us last year. We had no control over that. … The Division 4 opportunity is an opportunity our program hasn’t had before. And our goals don’t change. Our goals are exactly the same.”
The Crusaders were No. 1 in the Associated Press Division 5 state rankings before the change, and they are now No. 3 in Division 4.
Lutheran’s three trips to state were all in Division 5.
Regionals begin Feb. 16.
SPEAKING OF LUTHERAN
For just the third time in program history, the Crusaders had two players score at least 30 points in the same game.
It happened last Tuesday when Casey Verhagen and Andrew Verhelst each had 30 – Verhelst also grabbed 20 rebounds – in an 85-62 win over Howards Grove. The first time it happened was in 1997 and then Jacob Ognacevic and Delvin Barnstable did it in 2019.
Also, Jonah Jurss recently passed his brother, Jake, to become the player with the most wins at Lutheran. Entering this past weekend, Jonah’s record with the Crusaders was 88-8.
WHAT A START
Sheboygan North’s Iggy Carcara scored 19 points in the basketball team’s first game of the season after getting a total of 19 of them all of last year.
“It all seemed to click,” the senior said. “Once I made a few, they knew to look for me and got the ball to me in the right spots.”
Carcara helped the Golden Raiders to a 65-43 win at Pulaski on Jan. 8 by taking advantage of the opponent’s zone defense.
“It was great, especially waiting all this time to finally get minutes,” Carcara said. “And then being able to just kind of prove to people I do deserve to be out there and I think of myself being able to make stuff happen. I think that game was great for me and I’m making up for what I missed last year.”
Carcara quit the team for about a week last year – he says it was an impulse decision – because he was struggling in school and a ‘lot of stuff’ was going on.
“I realized I really do want to play basketball,” Carcara said. “I figured I needed to use my time better in school and still play basketball at the same time, because it’s what I grew up loving to play.
“Coach (Eric) Worth was very forgiving and I’m grateful for the opportunity he gave me to come back last year.”
Although Carcara never really played a lot as a junior, Worth feels he grew up a lot over the offseason.
“He came in ready to rock and roll this season,” the coach said. “That first game, he definitely made the most of it. … It was awesome because he stuck it out. Seeing him come in locked, loaded and being a senior, growing up and the maturity, was special. We were watching him at practice – our coaching staff – and we were like, he’s ready to get some minutes.
“And he’s earning minutes by the day.”
OFFENSE ON FIRE
Sheboygan North’s girls basketball team scored its more points in over 10 years as a result of a 92-23 victory over Manitowoc Lincoln on Jan. 12.
All but one Golden Raider scored, as Alexis Johnson had a team-high 14 points.
Emma Belmore added 12, and Karsyn Bichler and Lizzie Binder each contributed 10.
North had 23 assists compared to nine turnovers, and its defensive pressure forced 18 steals that led to a lot of transition points.
“It was great defensive pressure forcing turnovers to not let them run their offense and we transitioned well,” coach Keith Conway said.
It was the most points scored by the Golden Raiders since 2010, when they defeated Green Bay West, 94-15.
In that game, Lauren Salzbrenner scored 26 points, Alyssa Conway tallied 13, Abby Fehrman and Morgan Parise each had 12, and Lisa Werner finished with 10.