Posted On: 08/31/18 6:29 PM
We’ve looked at five teams we think will outperform expectations in 2018-19. Now, let’s examine five teams who will make a big jump, continuing with Waukesha West…
Overall Record: 16-8
Conference Record (Classic Eight): 10-6 (4th Place)
WIAA State Tournament Finish: Lost 61-52 to Westosha Central in the Division 2 Regional Final
Key Losses: Finley Schumacher (10.2 ppg)
Projected Starting Lineup
G Chris Bready – Sr. (9.8 ppg)
G Rocky Martinez – Sr. (10.3 ppg)
G Cameron Palesse – So. (9.4 ppg)
F Avery Owusu-Asiedu – Jr. (N/A)
F David Skogman – Sr. (11.8 ppg)
Why Waukesha West?
The Wolverines return four players who averaged at least nine points per game last season, which should force opponents to have to pick their poison.
“I think we’re very fortunate that we have a contingent of guys returning and to be able to have that many weapons,” head coach Don LaValle said. “The fact that we’re battle tested, I think that will be our strength. That experience and that depth with that first group, I think gives us a really good advantage going into the year.
“They’ve gone through their learning curve and now it’s the year they’re ready to go.”
Leading the charge is senior forward David Skogman. The 6-foot-10 big man has racked up Division 1 offers over the summer, going from a raw, high-upside talent, to one of the top 3-4 prospects in the state of Wisconsin.
“He’s gotten better every year,” LaValle said. “It’s really a testament to putting in the time, energy, effort, and commitment to the sport.
“He’s such a mismatch for defenses — he’s a matchup nightmare. He can play down in the post, pass out of the post, he can step out and shoot the 3-pointer from 23-feet if he has to. We can utilize him in ball screens and make defenses make decisions.
“He’s going to be a huge asset for us this year and I think he’s very hungry. I think he’s going to have an amazing year for us.”
Senior guard Rocky Martinez was second on the team in scoring in 2017-18. LaValle refers to Martinez as “winning time,” due to his knack to rise to the occasion late in games.
“He’s an unassuming kid with great talent,” said LaValle. “His ability to hit the big shot, I think is huge. When it gets under five minutes, if we need a bucket, we encourage Rocky to create something.
“In that last five minutes, he likes to take over.”
One of the biggest risers in the class of 2019 over the summer, Chris Bready is a combo guard that’s opening eyes with his above the rim ability.
“His physical game has improved a ton, which has opened the door to great athleticism,” LaValle explained. “His athleticism now is off the charts. He’s a gym rat too. He’s always up before school working on his game, getting in the weight room. He’s got a man’s body.
“When he uses it the right way, he’ll create some really trick matchups this year.”
Sophomore Cameron Palesse was an honorable mention all-conference pick last season. A top five prospect in the 2021 class, Palessee might be in store for a big year as well.
“I think we’re going to see Cam explode this year,” LaValle stated. “He’s a baller, his life revolves around basketball. We asked him to play some big minutes last year and he stepped up, did a really great job.
“He’s hungry. I think you’re going to see him elevate his game. I expect great things out of Cam this year. He’s worked all summer long. I think he’s going to have a fantastic year as well.”
Junior forward Avery Owusu-Asiedu may be in line to round out the starting lineup. Complimenting the ‘big four’ with his ability to be a junkyard dog, Owusu-Asiedu should be responsible for bringing the toughness element to the table.
“Avery is a beast,” said LaValle. “He’s a worker. He’s a guy that will do the dirty work. He’s going to rebound, set screens, get on the deck, and just be a really great roll player that’s smart enough to know where and how he can help the team.”
LaValle also mentioned senior guard Alex Regenfelder as a player who should see major minutes.
“He played in some really big games and had some big moments for us last year,” said LaValle. “We needed somebody to step up and he led us to some wins. He plays with a really nice confidence and some moxy. He’s got a little edge to him, which I love.”
Can West get past Arrowhead and Kettle Moraine?
Those two programs handed the Wolverines four of their eight losses last season. In fact, all four of those defeats came by 10 points or less.
Arrowhead and Kettle Moraine may not reload top to bottom the way West will this season, but both programs return their best players and leading scorers — Nate Jenkins (Kettle Moraine) and Carter Gilmore (Arrowhead).
In fact, since LaValle has been at the helm, he’s yet to beat the Laser or Warhawks
“We’ve gotta get over that hump,” LaValle stated. “All four of those games, the biggest thing was minimizing mistakes. We knew it was going to come down to a couple possessions. Our focus this year is going to be taking care of the basketball, avoiding that stretch where we don’t play our best basketball. Those games came down to decision making.
“We were still relatively young. I think our experience will help us this season when it does come down to crunch time.”
When LaValle took over the program, he wanted to make Waukesha West relevant again. Through two seasons, he has the Wolverines on the right track.
Inheriting a team that went 2-21 the year prior, LaValle led West to a 9-14 mark in his inaugural season. Going 16-8 in 2017-18, the Wolverines appear primed for their breakthrough.
“This year, we would love to win the Classic Eight,” said LaValle. “We know it’s going to be a battle. There’s a lot of great teams.
“I think a program that wants to be successful, has to have goals like that. We do dream of winning the Classic Eight. We do dream of going to state.
“We do have big goals this season. Our guys are going to work hard to try and make sure we accomplish them.”