Mason Johnson, 6-6, Sr., F, Milwaukee Golda Meir
An active, athletic interior player who sweeps the glass and scores with regularity in the lane, Johnson is having a monster season for Milwaukee Golda Meir. After transferring to Golda Meir at the midway point of last year from Milwaukee Marquette, Johnson has evolved as the go-to player for coach Charles Jordan and the Owls. The bouncy 6-foot-6 forward is averaging 25.6 points and 18.5 rebounds while helping Golda Meir to a 10-8 record, including a 6-2 mark within the Blue Division of the Milwaukee City Conference. Last week, Johnson elevated his game to a new level as he scored 28 points and grabbed 18 rebounds in a 66-62 win over Milwaukee School of Languages, before exploding for 51 points and 17 rebounds in a 126-57 win over Milwaukee Lifelong Learning. Johnson currently leads the state in rebounding and his 51-point total is tied for fourth-highest in a single game in Wisconsin during the 2019-20 campaign.
The Thunderbirds are one of eight high school boys' basketball teams in the WIAA with an unbeaten record through games played on February 8. Coach Sam Bertsch's squad improved to 16-0 with triumphs over Stevens Point Pacelli and Weyauwega-Fremont last week. In the 69-61 non-league win over Pacelli, Iola-Scandinavia got 22 points, 5 rebounds and 6 assists from senior point guard Justin Sivertson (6-2) while sophomore forward Parker Prahl (6-3) contributed 21 points and 7 rebounds. Senior guard Connor Kurki (6-3) added 14 points and 12 rebounds in the hard-earned win over Pacelli. In an 84-40 romp over Weyauwega-Fremont, junior Bryce Hardel (6-1) led the way with 24 points. On the season, Sivertson is averaging 21.8 ppg and 5.4 apg, followed by Prahl at 13.6 ppg, 7.5 rpg and 3.6 apg and Kurki at 15.8 ppg and 6.9 rpg. The Thunderbirds own a one-game lead in the loss column over second-place Shiocton on the Central Wisconsin East Conference standings. Bertsch's squad posted a 70-68 win at Shiocton in early January and a rematch between the two league powers is set for February 27 at Iola-Scandinavia. Other unbeaten teams in the state through February 8 include Madison La Follette (16-0), Milwaukee King (15-0), Racine St. Catherine's (17-0), Cuba City (16-0), Stratford (17-0), Bangor (16-0) and Randolph (17-0).
Duane Gasperini, Washburn
One of the more successful coaches in the long history of the Indianhead Conference, Gasperini won his 378th career game on Friday when the Castle Guards defeated Mercer 67-55. With the triumph, Duane tied his father, Bob Gasperini, for career victories. Bob Gasperini is a Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame member who helped guide Washburn to the WIAA State Tournament in 1976, 1981, 1982 and 1984. The Castle Guards lost to an unbeaten Fall Creek 57-46 in the Class C state-title game in 1984 under Bob Gasperini. Meanwhile, Duane Gasperini now is in his 23rd season as the head coach at Washburn, and has won 378 games against 155 defeats, including a 7-7 mark this season. The Castle Guards advanced to the WIAA Division 5 State Tournament in 2015 under Duane Gasperini, losing to eventual state-champion Young Coggs Prep in the semifinals.