Prep boys basketball photo: Monona Grove's Caden Nelson

Monona Grove's Caden Nelson passes over the defense of Stoughton's Aiden McGee (5) and Brady Schipper during the second half Thursday at Stoughton. 


2017-2018 STANDINGS

Team, Conf., All

Monona Grove, 13-1, 24-2

Stoughton, 12-2, 16-9

Watertown, 9-5, 11-12

Monroe, 8-6, 14-10

Oregon, 6-8, 9-14

Madison Edgewood, 5-9, 9-15

Fort Atkinson, 3-11, 5-19


Top WIAA tournament performances: Monona Grove — Lost to Westosha Central, 76-55, in Division 2 sectional final; Stoughton — Lost to Monona Grove, 58-47, in D2 sectional semifinal.


First team: Caden Nelson, 6-1, sr., Monona Grove.

Second team: Sam Hepp, 6-7, sr., Monona Grove; Michael Meriggioli, 6-5, sr., Madison Edgewood.

Honorable mention: Ethan Victorson, 6-0, sr., Oregon; Eric Victorson, 5-9, so., Oregon; Alec Lauersdorf, 5-11, sr., Watertown.


1, Monona Grove; 2, Stoughton; 3, Monroe, Oregon


Fort Atkinson Blackhawks

Coach: Mike Hintz, 11th year (81-133 at Fort Atkinson, 134-188 overall)

Returning starters: None.

Other returning letterwinners: Jordan Flodin, 5-11, sr., G (2.2 ppg, 2.6 rpg); James D. Vander Mause, 6-0, so., G, 1 ppg); Greyson Wixom, 5-11, so., G, 5.3 ppg).

Key fact: The Blackhawks will be extremely young and inexperienced as they return no starters and three bench players, only one of whom had significant minutes last year.

The lowdown: Fort Atkinson lost all of their starters plus bench players from last years roster. Hintz will start a freshman, 2 sophomores, a junior and a senior this year. The Blackhawks do not have much size, so they will have to make up for that with athleticism in order to “give ourselves a chance to be competitive.”

Quotable: Hintz said he will have to be patient with his roster while the players “gain the necessary experience needed to be successful in our conference.”

Madison Edgewood Crusaders

Coach: Chris Zwettler, 30th year (432-254 at Madison Edgewood; 505-358 overall)

Returning starters: Michael Meriggioli, 6-5, sr., F (11.6 ppg).

Other returning letterwinners: Sam Salzwedel, 6-0, sr., F, 2 ppg); Jackson Wendler, 6-0, sr., G, 1.3 ppg); Mitchell Wendler, 6-1, sr., F, 1.5 ppg); Isandro Jimenez, 6-0, so., G, 3.3 ppg); Jack Clark, 6-3, sr., C, 5 ppg); Andrew Newton, 6-3, sr., C, 3 ppg).

Key fact: Zwettler is entering his third decade of coaching basketball and achieved his 500th career coaching victory last year over Oconomowoc.

The lowdown: The Crusaders historically have a 63 percent win rate under the leadership of Coach Zwettler. Despite losing four starters this season, the team is returning seven seniors who hope to improve on their performance from last year. They will be captained by their sole returning starter Michael Meriggioli, and will receive a fresh boost from senior JJ Illgen who didn’t play the last two years due to soccer commitments.

Quotable: “I feel we will get better as the year goes on,” said coach Zwettler. “We are a little bit deeper than last year. We are young with some athletic kids… We will have great chemistry and attitude.”

Milton Red Hawks

Coach: Alex Olson, second year (0-23)

Returning starters: Jared Brown, 6-0, sr., G (9.1 ppg, 2 rpg); Cade Austin, 6-3, so., F (3.8 ppg, 2.9 rpg); Brad Bowditch, 6-0, jr., G (4 ppg); Ryder Radke, 5-9, jr., G (3.1 ppg, 1.2 rpg); Kyle Wecker, 6-4, sr., F (5.9 ppg, 3 rpg).

Returning letterwinners: Ben Burdette, 6-0, sr., C, 2.4 ppg, 1.6 rpg; Greyson Hammer, 6-1, sr., G, 1.7 ppg, 0.8 rpg; Jack Weberpal, 5-10, jr., G

The lowdown: The majority of Milton’s team is returning this year, and the starting squad will be led by elusive freshman point guard Jack Campion. The team also sports a sibling duo, with senior Ben Burdette at center and sophomore Samuel Burdette at guard.

Quotable: “Continuing to improve each and every day will be huge. Commitment to the defensive end will decide how many games we win,” Olson said.

Monona Grove Silver Eagles

Coach: Dan Zweifel, 23rd year (279-228)

Returning starters: Caden Nelson, 6-1, sr., G (16.5 ppg, 2.6 rpg); Sam Hepp, 6-7, sr., W (9.7 ppg, 3.9 rpg).

Other returning letterwinners: Henry Huston, 6-3, sr., G (5.9 ppg); Kyle Nett, 6-7, sr., F (3.1 ppg); Isaac Stinson, 6-2, sr., G (0.8 ppg); Sam Gronski, 6-2, sr., F (1.1 ppg); Jordan Bishop, 6-2, sr., F (1.8 ppg); Carson Antonson, 6-6, sr., F (1.7 ppg).

Key fact: The Silver Eagles’ last state championship came in 2006.

The lowdown: This powerhouse program returns two starters and six other rotation players from last year’s squad. Second team all-conference forward Sam Hepp is rated the 15th best player in the state for Wisconsin’s senior class. Hepp and first-team all conference guard Caden Nelson will lead Monona Grove in hopes of defending the Badger South conference title again. “Caden Nelson has a shot for 1,000 (career) points” and Henry Hutson set a school record for free throw percentage last year shooting 92% from the line.

Quotable: “(We will use) quickness and athleticism to remain as one of the top teams in the Badger South,” Zweifel said.

Monroe Cheesemakers

Coach: Brian Bassett, third year (25-23 at Monroe; 35-35 overall)

Returning starters: Kade King, 6-6, sr., F (15 ppg, 10 rpg).

Other returning letterwinners: Max Lange, 6-3, sr., F (5.4 ppg, 3 rpg); Nick Schumacher, 6-2, sr., G (13 ppg); Kevin Schmidt, 5-10, sr., G (1 ppg); Ross Jacobson, 6-1 sr., G; Hunter Huschitt, 6-4, sr., F (1.5 ppg); Aaron Ziolkowski, 6-4, jr., F (2 ppg); Max Golembiewski, 6-2, so., G (3.7 ppg); Chris Dahmen, 6-3, jr., F.

Key fact: Monroe is adding a 6-7 sophomore transfer from Black Hawk in Cade Meyer. He appeared in three games for the Warriors last year, scoring 11 points. “He brings some athleticism to our team,” Bassett said.

The lowdown: “Our strength will be our interior play and size, “ said Bassett, “two years ago we did not have a guy over 6-1 on varsity and now we could have a line-up featuring 4 players 6'4 or bigger.” Senior Kade King is the leader of the team and only returning starter. Bassett said that King is the “best captain I have ever coached” and it will be key for the other players surrounding him to make enough plays to ensure he is not double or triple-teamed. With very little experience returning, “guys will have to grow up in a hurry,” said Bassett. The Cheesemakers are looking to finish in the top half of the conference after finishing fourth last year behind the sleeper in Watertown and the powerhouses in Monona Grove and Stoughton.

Quotable: After finishing 14-10 overall last year and losing many close games, Bassett said, “we want to finish out games and the season with more consistency down the stretch.” “This should be Monroe's strongest team in a few years.”

Oregon Panthers

Coach: Chris Siebert, second year (9-14)

Returning starters: Ethan Victorson, 6-1, sr., G (14.4 ppg); Carter Erickson, 6-4, sr., W (4.8 ppg); Nolan Look, 6-0, sr., G (7 ppg); Erik Victorson, 5-11, so., G (8.7 ppg).

Other returning letterwinners: Zach Tower, 6-1, sr., W (1.1 ppg); Sean Benet, 6-7, sr., C (0.3 ppg); Ryan Taplick, 6-3, sr., W (0.9 ppg).

Key fact: Senior guard Ethan Victorson will be wearing a No. 34 jersey this year in honor of his cousin, Will Kellerman, who passed away last winter.

The lowdown: The Panthers’ roster features nine seniors and returns strong guard play to their lineup and bench. A pair of honorable mention guards and brothers, Ethan and Erik Victorson, will be a strong force outside the paint. However, the team “will need to discover ways we can score when we aren’t making outside shots” according to Siebert. Senior 6-foot-7 center Sean Benet could help alleviate that pressure, along with some junior varsity call-ups. Overall, Oregon will be able to defend and compete in every game in a conference where “anyone can win or lose on any night.”

Quotable: Senior Carter Erickson will also be an important piece of the Panthers’ lineup. “He has the ability to impact the game in a variety of areas defensively, and has great versatility offensively with his length, IQ, and ability to see the floor,” said Siebert.

Stoughton Vikings

Coach: Nolan Weber, third year (35-14)

Returning starters: Adam Hobson, 6-3, jr., F (7.8 ppg).

Other returning letterwinners: Drew Anderson, 6-2, sr., SG (4 ppg); Trenten Conklin, 6-4, sr., PF (1 ppg); Cael McGee, 6-1, so., SG (3.4 ppg).

Key fact: Stoughton lost four starters and a top bench player this year, each of whom contributed minutes in last year’s road to a regional championship.

The lowdown: The Vikings will have a young team this year, but hope to post a good season thanks to an infusion of talent from former junior varsity players. One new addition to the roster to watch for is junior center Jack Nelson. At 6-7 and 260 pounds, Nelson is expected to give the Vikings a tough presence in the paint that the team has lacked in previous years.

Quotable: “We have some very talented returning players and some JV players from last season that we expect to step into our rotation and contribute. We will have some growing pains with a youthful team, but we hope to stay near the top of the conference,” Weber said.

Watertown Goslings

Coach: Travis Moulton, sixth year (43-71)

Returning starters: Caden Oiler, 5-9, jr., PG (5.5 ppg); Kory Stas, 6-1, jr., G (8.1 ppg).

Other returning letterwinners: Noah Jeseritz, 6-6, sr., F (6.7 ppg); Alec Lauersdorf, 5-10, sr., G (8.5 ppg); Clayton Haase, 6-0, sr., G (3.6 ppg); Payton Foltz, 5-10, jr., G (2.3 ppg); Luke Gifford, 6-3, sr., F (0.5 ppg).

Key fact: Moulton is a 2003 Watertown graduate who played soccer and basketball at Concordia University Wisconsin and has been inducted into that school’s athletic Hall of Fame.

The lowdown: The Goslings return plenty of talent and depth from last year’s initial run through the Badger South Conference schedule. “I think we will be in the top half of conference again,” the coach said. Oiler is returning this month from an injury and “will be our quarterback,’ Moulton said, adding that Stas “has looked very dynamic (at) the wing.” Moulton also said Jeseritz “is looking to have a big year (as a) 6-6 big who plays inside and out.” Lauersdorf has “(anywhere) in the gym range, and we will look for him to spread out defenses,” the coach added. Defensive rebounding and consistent shooting from 3-point range will be key factors.

Quotable: “It is our goal to compete for a conference championship, but (we) realize that it will be difficult … Our practices will be super competitive because everyone can play,” Moulton said.​


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Wisconsin State Journal prep sports editor Art Kabelowsky has traversed the state to cover sports while working for daily papers in Fort Atkinson, Racine, La Crosse, Milwaukee and Baraboo.