Posted On: 08/17/18 8:21 AM
Looking ahead to the 2018-19 WIAA basketball campaign, Prep Hoops Wisconsin examines 10 teams who will be better than expected this season, continuing with the defending Division 1 runner-up Brookfield East Spartans.
Overall Record: 25-3
Conference Record (Greater Metro): 14-2 (2nd)
WIAA State Tournament Finish: Lost 61-44 to Oshkosh North in the Division 1 State Championship
Key Losses: Patrick Cartier (22.1 ppg), Peyton Simon (6.9 ppg)
Projected Starting Lineup
G Michael Poker – Jr. (6.5 ppg)/Hayden Doyle – So. (4.2 ppg)
G Thomas Francken – Sr. (9.6 ppg)
G Sam McGath – Jr. (9.6 ppg)
F Riley LeTourneau – Sr. (6.7 ppg)
F Carter Cousland – Sr. (1.3 ppg)
Why Brookfield East?
Yes, losing Patrick Cartier (Hillsdale) is a substantial blow. Cartier led the Spartans in scoring, rebounding, and blocked shots. He was also second on the team in steals and third in assists. Not to mention, Cartier was perhaps the most efficient scorer in the state last year, shooting above 71 percent from the floor.
But you don’t win 25 games and reach a state championship game by being a one-man show.
“Patrick was clearly one of the best players in the state of Wisconsin last year,” East head coach Joe Rux told Prep Hoops Wisconsin. “He was a pretty difficult cover for most teams.
“The good news for us — Patrick was a really unselfish player. It’s not like we really ran our offense through Patrick. We just took advantage of having a kid with that skill level.”
In fact, East was able to survive a number of games where Cartier sat for extended minutes due to foul trouble or simply had an off night. In Cartier’s twelve-lowest scoring games, the Spartans went 11-1 with the lone defeat coming to Oshkosh North in the title game.
“We had a number of games last year where Patrick was in foul trouble or limited for different reasons,” said Rux. “Our guys were able to set up and play really well. We went through some significant battles and played in a lot of close basketball games.”
Brookfield East lost just three seniors from last season. The Spartans return three of their top four scorers, including junior Sam McGath (9.6 ppg) and Thomas Francken (9.8 ppg).
“Those are guys that can shoot it and fill up the score sheet pretty quick,” said Rux. “They can also get out in transition.
“Sam can get to the rim and he can shoot the ball pretty well. He’s such a strong kid that finishing around the rim comes pretty natural for him. I think he might be our most diverse player.
“Thomas is a tremendous shooter. He had a great three quarters of the year. In January, he broke his wrist and was having a hard time playing, but battled through it.”
Sophomore Hayden Doyle, junior Michael Poker, and senior Riley LeTourneau each played in 28 games last season and round out the core.
“We have a number of kids who are extremely talented and will get the job done,” Rux stated. “We’ll continue to play team basketball, focus on defense, and sharing the ball. Hopefully that will make up for losing someone of that caliber.”
Where do shots come from this season?
Brookfield East is likely to have an equal opportunity offense, but Cartier attempted 200 more shots than any of his teammates last season, leaving a big void in terms of creating opportunities.
“With Patrick taking so many more shots, a lot of times that had to with the matchups,” Rux explained. “Our guys were willing to share the ball. They passed up shots sometimes because they knew Patrick had a mismatch in the post. With that element gone, I don’t know that we’ll have someone take that many shots, but I do know all of our guards can score.
“I don’t think there’s one guy that’s gotta do it. Guys are going to continue to share the ball. Whoever’s hot, whoever steps up each game, will get the ball a little more.
“I think we’re going to be pretty deep when it comes to our ability to score.”
In addition to Cartier, East also needs to replace Peyton Simon, who started all 28 games and contributed across the board, posting 6.9 points, 4.0 rebounds, 1.9 assists, and .8 steals per game.
Rux mentioned three players who could make big jumps in 2018-19.
“There’s three of those guys,” said Rux. “Michael Poker at the point guard spot, Hayden Doyle, and Riley LeTourneau — those three guys have been in big games and played a lot. They call can score and they do different things. They’re all pretty talented.
“I’d expect all those guys to step up.”
Last season, the Spartans were arguably the biggest surprise in the state. Coming off an 11-12 season, East pulled a complete 180 and nearly won the Greater Metro Conference.
Cartier will be virtually impossible to replace, but while watching Brookfield East compete, one this was obvious — this was a team of competitors.
Offensively, they’ll make you uncomfortable with a grind-it-out style and find ways to exploit mismatches at any given position. On the other end, this is a fundamentally sound group that will challenge every pass, get up into people, and make opponents earn everything they get.
A return trip to Madison may be out of reach, but this season, nobody is lining up against these guys and getting an easy win.
“We don’t spend a lot of time worrying about where everyone feels our team should fall,” Rux said. “Had we been worried about that last year, we would have finished in the bottom of the conference.
“I think they learned last year, you don’t really get caught up in that, you just try and get better every single game. Our guys just try and stay in the moment.”