MADISON - A couple hours of Sam Dekker willed his team to a state title, his future classmate at the University of Wisconsin did the exact same thing.
Senior Zak Showalter led Germantown with 22 points and went 6-for- 6 from the free throw line in the final 60 seconds to help the Warhawks hold off a late-charging Milwaukee King to earn a 72-69 victory and a WIAA Division 1 state championship.
As for the icing on the cake, the Warhawks finished a perfect 28-0, including beating the defending state champions, Madison Memorial, in the semifinals.
“This is the best feeling I've ever felt in my life,” said Showalter, who gasped for breath throughout his answer. "We worked so hard for this, so many practices since we were in the fifth grade, so much sweat, so much blood, so many battles. For all 15 of us this is a dream come true. We’ve been thinking about this for our whole lives. It’s remarkable. I am a loss for words. It’s amazing.”
Showalter picked up two early fouls in the first quarter and played only seven minutes in the first half, but went 15 of 18 from the free-throw line. It was almost as clutch as Dekker hitting a 3-pointer from the corner with 4.6 seconds left to give his team a one-point victory.
“Hats off to him,” said Showalter of Dekker. “He’s an unbelievable player. He’s an awesome kid. We have a great relationship already and I haven’t even started rooming with him. I think the next four years are going to be four of the best years of my life. He’s a great kid, a tremendous athlete and a tremendous competitor. He can score the ball and perform in the clutch like he did (Saturday). His performance was just remarkable – 12 points in the last 50 seconds. I’ve never seen that before I don’t think.”
Showalter averaged 22.1 points per game during his senior season and will try to earn a scholarship from UW coach Bo Ryan. He’ll likely get one, since he turned down scholarships from Dayton, Drake, Green Bay, Milwaukee, Missouri State, North Dakota State, Rice and South Dakota State.
"I'm going to work as hard as I can,” said Showalter. “That has always been the strongest asset of my game."
Thomas Adds D2 Title
While Wisconsin’s two commitments added a state title, the Badgers’ other main in-state recruiting target wasn’t about to be left out of the party.
Onalaska junior guard Matt Thomas scored 30 points and grabbed 11 rebounds to lead his team to a 55-38 victory over Kaukauna in the WIAA Division 2 state championship game. Thomas was the only player for his team in double figures, shot 9-for-18, went 4-for-7 from 3-point range and scored 21 of his points in the first half to build a sizeable lead.
“It’s kind of indescribable the feeling you have, it’s just a really good feeling,” said Thomas, who also finished with 11 rebounds, three assists, two steals and a block. “You think every shot you put up is going in. My teammates did a great job getting me open (setting) high ball screens and getting me shots.”
Thomas, who finished the season averaging 21.3 points this season, scored all 10 of Onalaska’s first-quarter points, then chipped in six points during an 11-3 second-quarter surge.
“Matt really took over in that first half,” said Onalaska coach Craig Kowal, as Thomas scored 21 of the team’s 29 first-half points. “I had this feeling that tonight we were absolutely going to show the state how talented and how good of a basketball player he really is.”
Thomas – a three-star guard ranked the No.22 shooting guard in the country by Scout.com – holds offers from Boston College, Creighton, Green Bay, Iowa State, Marquette, Minnesota, Northern Iowa, Northwestern and Virginia. He is expecting to make his decision sometime this summer.
Two days after registering a triple-double - 15 points, 15 rebounds and a state-record 14 blocks – in his team’s 67-44 WIAA Division 4 semifinal victory over Colfax, 6-9 freshman Diamond Stone again was out in full force for Whitefish Bay Dominican.
In his team’s 61-43 state championship victory over Cuba City, Stone score nine points on a perfect 4-for-4 shooting performance, grabbed a team-high eight rebounds and registered a game-high six blocks. No wonder a number of BCS schools have already started recruiting him, including Wisconsin.
“I thought Diamond’s presence in the middle … I mean, the whole place could see it,” said Dominican coach Paul Wollersheim. “Fortunately we had (him) back there.”
As Colfax found out Thursday, Stone can do more than score. In a five-second span late in the third quarter, Stone blocked Lane Olson’s shot and then sent Ethin Kiekhafer’s attempt into the second row of seats.
“Diamond is an amazing player and I am not used to seeing that at all,” said Olson, who had a team-high 16 points but went just 3-for-22 shooting. “I’ve never played anyone that big before. He’s just a hard-to-move man.”
Stone finished the season averaging 13.4 points per game for the Knights (27-1) and says he’s getting mail from Clemson, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, North Carolina and USC in addition to Wisconsin.