A year after a heartbreaking, last-second overtime loss to Brookfield East in last season’s WIAA Division 1 state semifinal, Brock Voigt and Sun Prairie are gearing up for another run at the title.
Last year, Voigt’s junior season, the Cardinals were powered by a senior class that included Big Eight Conference Player of the Year Marlon Ruffin and one of the nation’s top sophomores in Jalen Johnson.
Voigt’s minutes were limited last year. He averaged 2.8 points per game, and didn’t play in the season-ending loss to Brookfield East.
This season, however, changes have come. The seniors have graduated, and Johnson and his younger brother, Kobe, have moved to the Milwaukee area and now play for Division 2 state qualifier Glendale Nicolet.
But success is still coming for coach Jeff Boos and his Cardinals. Sun Prairie (20-6) will take on West Allis Central (22-3) at 8:15 p.m. Friday in a Division 1 state semifinal at the Kohl Center, with the winner advancing to Saturday night’s championship against the winner of Friday’s Brookfield Central-Neenah game.
“We’re just taking it one game at a time,” said Voigt, a 6-foot-5 forward.
When pushed into a significant leadership role in this year’s Sun Prairie lineup, Voigt has thrived. He has averaged 15.5 points per game — and according to Boos, it all comes from Voigt’s work ethic.
“The development of Brock has come from his ability to recognize that ‘I’m going to put the work in to continue to grow my game,’” Boos said. “It wasn’t like ‘I’m a senior, now it’s going to be my turn,’ it was more ‘I’m going to continue doing what I need to do in order to become a better player.’”
Voigt is not the only player who has grown up quickly for Sun Prairie. Of the nine players who played in last year’s state semifinal, only three (Rajai Williams, Colin Schaefer and Delaware Hale) are on the Cardinals’ roster this season. None were starters a year ago.
“The growth of these guys … they’ve come a long way,” Boos said.
Sun Prairie went 12-6 to finish fourth in the Big Eight, then defeated Verona, Madison Memorial, Racine Horlick and Madison La Follette on its way back to state.
Voigt scored 16 points in the Cardinals’ 61-59 regional final win over Memorial, a team that had beaten Sun Prairie during the conference season.
“We fought through really hard,” Voigt said. “We were down by eight with a couple minutes left in the half, and we ended up fighting back.”
Voigt had 14 points in Sun Prairie’s 73-49 win over Horlick, and 11 in Saturday’s 66-53 sectional final victory over La Follette.
Sun Prairie used a suffocating zone defense, featuring five players 6-5 or taller, to stymie La Follette, which had beaten Sun Prairie twice during the regular season. Hale led Sun Prairie with 15 points, and Voigt’s sophomore brother Alex added 12 to headline a strong team effort.
“Each team has an identity, and with this team it’s resilience,’’ Boos said after Saturday’s game. “The bounce back. They play on.’’