(Editor's Note: WisSports.net basketball writer Mark Miller is using the extra time available due to COVID-19 to research the high school basketball history of some of Wisconsin's larger cities. His All-Time Best series will run on WisSports.net during the next few months).
In addition to producing some truly stellar players, the history of Wisconsin Rapids high school basketball also includes some exceptional coaches.
At Lincoln, Phil Manders, Jack Cepak, Jack Bennett, Jim Fitzgerald and Dan Witter carved out hugely successful careers, both in Wisconsin Rapids and, in the case of Bennett, at other locations.
At Assumption, Gordie Lewison, Bob Olson and Gary Weisenbeck proved they rank among the very best to coach the game.
Many of the above have been, or will be, inducted into the Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame.
As far as the players go, the top two in the opinion of most are Pete Brey of Assumption and Rob Metcalf of Lincoln. Both went on to play in the Big Ten with Brey at Wisconsin and Metcalf at Minnesota.
Of course, several members of the Raiders' 1951 state-championship squad also were outstanding players at the prep and collegiate levels and that team remains the lone squad from the city to win a state championship.
Here is a breakdown of the best to come out of Wisconsin Rapids:
Criteria For All-Time Wisconsin Rapids Teams
1) In order to be chosen to the first, second, third or fourth all-time team, a player must have earned first, second, third or fourth team all-state honors from either the Associated Press or United Press International. Exceptions will be made, but will be rare.
2) In addition to the accomplishments a player achieved in high school, their college honors in the sport also weigh heavily when selecting the teams.
|NAME||HEIGHT||YEAR||HIGH SCHOOL||All-State Team|
|Pete Brey||6'7"||1973||Assumption||1st (AP)|
|Rob Metcalf||6'6"||1986||Lincoln||1st (AP)|
|Tom Jackson||6'4"||1968||Lincoln||2nd (AP)|
|Blake Knutson||6'5"||1994||Assumption||3rd (AP)|
|Trevor Stratton||6'2"||2005||Lincoln||3rd (AP)|
Pete Brey, 6-7, F, 1973, Assumption
First Team All-State 1973 AP
Likely the most highly sought after recruit in Wisconsin Rapids history, Brey ended up selecting the University of Wisconsin over Minnesota and Texas. He scored 169 points and grabbed 212 rebounds in four seasons with the Badgers and averaged 4.1 points and 3.7 rebounds in 1975-76. At Assumption, Brey was a versatile player who could dominate in the paint, handle the ball on the perimeter and find open teammates with his excellent passing ability. He averaged 20.0 points and 16.1 rebounds as a senior while helping coach Bob Olson's Royals to an 18-3 record and the Central Wisconsin Catholic Conference title. As a junior, Brey averaged 21.6 points and 15.0 rebounds as the Royals went 18-4 and again won the league title. As a sophomore, Brey helped Assumption to a 16-9 record and he was named to the all-tournament team at the WISAA State Tournament. Overall, Assumption went 52-16 during Brey's three years of varsity competition, and he was voted Player of the Year in the CWCC as a junior and senior. Remarkably, Brey scored in double figures in 65 of his 68 career games, including a career-best 30 points in a 54-49 triumph over Little Chute St. John in 1972-73.
Rob Metcalf, 6-6, G/F, 1986, Lincoln
First Team All-State 1986 UPI
The two-time first-team all-Wisconsin Valley Conference performer scored 948 career points playing for coaches Jack Bennett and Jim Fitzgerald at Lincoln. As a junior, Metcalf averaged 18.9 points and 8.9 rebounds, and then as a senior he led the Red Raiders to a 16-6 record and the league championship. A cerebral player with good size and skill, Metcalf opted to accept a scholarship offer from coach Terry Holland of Virginia and played one season with the Atlantic Coast Conference school before transferring and playing three seasons at Minnesota. As a senior in 1990-91 at Minnesota, Metcalf averaged 5.0 points and 3.5 rebounds for the Golden Gophers.
Tom Jackson, 6-4, F, 1968, Lincoln
Second Team All-State 1968 AP
Jackson was a scoring machine for coach Jack Cepak's 1967-68 Red Raiders squad, netting 507 points in 21 games for an average of 24.1 ppg. He scored a career-high 39 points in a game against Stevens Point and helped Lincoln to a 15-6 record, scoring 26 points in his final contest, a 71-70 loss to D.C. Everest in a WIAA regional final. Jackson played three years of varsity basketball for the Red Raiders and scored 796 career points. The unanimous first-team all-Wisconsin Valley Conference performer went on to a stellar four-year career at UW-Eau Claire, earning honorable mention all-Wisconsin State University Conference honors as a sophomore, junior and senior. He helped Eau Claire to three straight leagues titles and to a 29-2 record and a runner-up finish to Kentucky State in the NAIA National championships in Kansas City in 1972.
Blake Knutson, 6-5, G, 1994, Assumption
Third Team All-State 1994 AP
A strong, athletic and skilled wing player, Knutson spent his freshman and sophomore years at Nekoosa before transferring to Assumption in the fall of 1992. In two seasons at Assumption, Knutson scored 1,022 points, earned first-team all-Central Wisconsin Catholic Conference honors twice and helped coach Michael Vesperman's squad to an 18-6 record and a share of the league title as a senior in 1993-94. In a victory over Marshfield Columbus, Knutson scored 48 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and 11 assists. He went on to play two seasons at NCAA Division II South Dakota State and two seasons at UW-Platteville. As a senior playing for coach Bo Ryan at Platteville, Knutson averaged 12.3 points and 5.8 rebounds while helping the Pioneers to a 30-2 record and the NCAA Division III national championship.
Trevor Stratton, 6-3, G, 2005, Lincoln
Third Team All-State 2005 AP
For two magical days in March of 2005, Stratton had the prep-basketball world in Wisconsin buzzing. His stellar all-around play helped Lincoln to a 74-51 victory over Kimberly in the quarterfinal round of the WIAA Division 1 State Tournament. A day later, he erupted for 32 points and was sensational on both ends of the court in the Red Raiders' season-ending 63-51 loss to eventual state-champion Madison Memorial. Stratton buried seven three-point shots in the contest, still a Division 1 record for most three-point field goals made at the state tournament. Stratton helped Wisconsin Rapids to a 25-1 record and its first Wisconsin Valley Conference title in 10 seasons during his stellar senior season. Stratton scored 1,129 career points playing for coach Dan Witter and played one season at Carroll University, averaging 10.4 ppg in 2005-06. He later played two season at UW-La Crosse and earned honorable mention all-league as a junior and senior.
|NAME||HEIGHT||GRADUATION YEAR||HIGH SCHOOL||All-State Team|
|Greg Ebsen||5-10||1966||Lincoln||3rd (AP)|
|Bret Van Dyken||6'7"||1995||Lincoln||HM (AP)|
|Ryan Klein||6'4"||2002||Assumption||3rd (AP)|
|Bryan Beamish||6'5"||2005||Lincoln||HM (AP)|
|Scott Roeder||6'4"||1983||Lincoln||4th (AP)|
Greg Ebsen, 5-10, G, 1966, Lincoln
Third Team All-State AP
Ebsen and backcourt teammate Gary Dempze (5-7) electrified the crowds at the University of Wisconsin Fieldhouse at the 1966 WIAA State Tournament. Ebsen poured in 23 points in a state-semifinal upset victory over Grafton and had 20 points in the Raiders' 75-62 loss to powerful Milwaukee Lincoln in the state-title game. The first-team all-Wisconsin Valley Conference performer, who averaged 15.6 ppg while leading Lincoln to a 20-7 record on the season, was picked for the all-WIAA State Tournament squad for his stellar performances. Playing for first-year coach Jack Cepak, Ebsen scored 422 points as a senior and went on to play at UW-Stout, scoring 854 points for the Blue Devils and earning all-Wisconsin State University Conference honors in 1969-70.
Bret Van Dyken, 6-7, F, 1995, Lincoln
Honorable Mention All-State AP
The younger brother of ex-Lincoln standout Eric Van Dyken, Bret Van Dyken is one of the more prolific scorers in Lincoln history with 1,124 points. He earned first-team all-Wisconsin Valley Conference recognition as both a junior and senior for coach Jim Fitzgerald and was a dominating presence in the paint. He averaged 17.8 points and 8.3 rebounds as a senior in 1994-95 when he helped Lincoln to the league title, a 21-4 record and a spot in the WIAA State Tournament. Van Dyken had 28 points and 13 rebounds in the Red Raiders' regional triumph over D.C. Everest in 1995 and was the lone player on the 1995 all-league team to earn unanimous first-team honors. Van Dyken went on to star at Ripon College, earning all-Midwest Conference honors in 1997 and 1998, and being named the league's Player of the Year in 1999. He scored 1,202 career points in 99 games at Ripon College.
Ryan Klein, 6-4, F, 2002, Assumption
Third Team All-State 2002 AP
An athletic and vertical player who could finish off a drive to the basket with a thunderous dunk, Klein played four seasons of varsity basketball for coach Gary Weisenbeck at Assumption. He led the Royals to the WIAA Division 4 State Tournament in both his junior and senior seasons, and scored 1,403 career points. He netted a career-high 33 points in a victory over Rib Lake and had 26 in a sectional-final triumph over Green Bay NEW Lutheran as a senior. Klein went on to lead Maryville University of St. Louis is blocked shots four straight seasons and now is the girls' basketball coach at Assumption.
Bryan Beamish, 6-5, F, 2005, Lincoln
Honorable Mention All-State AP
Beamish helped Lincoln to the Wisconsin Valley Conference title and a trip to the WIAA State Tournament in 2004-05. Both achievements were the first for the school in 10 seasons. A highly proficient scorer around the basket, Beamish averaged 18.9 points per game for the Red Raiders and coach Dan Witter. He earned co-Player of the Year laurels in the league along with Ben Fischer of Wausau East and completed his prep career with 914 points. Beamish went on to excel for the men's basketball program at UW-Stevens Point, scoring 981 career points and twice earning first-team all-Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference recognition. Today, Beamish is an assistant basketball coach at NCAA Division II Minnesota-Crookston.
Scott Roeder, 6-4, F, 1983, Lincoln
Fourth Team All-State 1983 AP
The top scorer and rebounder for a team that was ranked No. 1 among large schools in the state for the entire 1982-83 season, Roeder earned first-team all-Wisconsin Valley Conference honors as a junior and senior for coach Jack Bennett and the Red Raiders. He helped Lincoln to a 14-0 league mark as a senior and an 11-3 conference record as a junior. A cerebral player who averaged 15.2 ppg as a senior, Roeder had a game-high 18 points in the Red Raiders' tough-to-swallow 42-40 loss to Watertown in the 1983 WIAA Class A State Tournament semifinals. He went on to play NCAA Division III college basketball for coach Bo Ryan at UW-Platteville.
|NAME||HEIGHT||GRADUATION YEAR||HIGH SCHOOL||All-State Team|
|Mark Olson||6'0"||1981||Assumption||4th (AP)|
|Gary Dempze||5'7"||1967||Lincoln||4th (AP)|
|Pat Daly||6'1"||1961||Assumption||3rd (AP)|
|Jim Jacunski||6'4"||1960||Assumption||2nd (UPI - Catholic)|
|Stan Ellis||6'1"||1959||Assumption||2nd (UPI - Catholic)|
Notes (1980s): Mark Olson (5-11) played three seasons of varsity basketball for his father and coach, Bob Olson, at Assumption. He scored 755 career points from 1978-81, including 487 as a senior when he averaged 22.4 points, 6.1 rebounds and 6.6 assists and shared Player of the Year honors in the Central Wisconsin Catholic Conference with Tom Saxelby of Stevens Point Pacelli. Olson went on to play college basketball at St. Norbert College.
Notes (1960s): Gary Dempze (5-7) averaged 14.4 ppg as a junior and 18.5 ppg as a senior for coach Jack Cepak at Lincoln. As a junior, Dempze played a huge role in helping the Red Raiders to a 20-7 record and runner-up finish at the WIAA State Tournament. He scored 17 points in a state-semifinal win over Grafton and 13 in the state-title game loss to Milwaukee Lincoln. The two-time first-team all-Wisconsin Valley Conference selection went on to play college basketball at UW-La Crosse ... Pat Daly (6-1) was a three-year varsity performer for coach Gordie Lewison at Assumption. He set a then-school record with 1,087 points following his final game on March 12, 1961, a 68-67 victory over Milwaukee Pius XI in the third-place game of the WCIAA State Tournament in Milwaukee. Daly earned unanimous first-team all-Central Wisconsin Catholic Conference as a junior and senior, and helped the Royals to a 56-17 record during his prep days. He averaged 17.3 ppg for a team that went 20-3 as a senior and 19.1 ppg for a squad that went 17-8 as a junior. Daly later became one of the top amateur golfers in central Wisconsin ... Jim Jacunski (6-4) set a Central Wisconsin Catholic Conference record with a 40-point outburst in a victory over Marshfield Columbus as a senior in 1959-60. An all-league football and basketball player at Assumption, Jacunski averaged 19.0 ppg as a senior for coach Gordie Lewison and the Royals, helping the team to the league title and 17-8 record. Jacunski was named to the All-Wisconsin Catholic Interscholastic Athletic Association State Tournament after scoring 26 points in a state quarterfinal victory over Marinette Catholic Central, 10 in a semifinal loss to Menasha St. Mary and 22 in a third-place victory over Milwaukee Notre Dame. Jacunski earned a football scholarship to the University of Miami and was later in the Army. He served as the village president in Vesper for many years and passed away in 1992 at the age of 50 due to heart failure.
Notes (1950s): Stan Ellis (6-1) was a three-year starter for coach Gordie Lewison at Assumption and helped the Royals to a combined record of 54-25 from 1956-59. A unanimous first-team all-Central Wisconsin Catholic Conference performer in 1958-59, Ellis and forward Chuck Millenbach (6-3), who went on to star in football at UW-Stevens Point, led Assumption to a 19-6 record, a share of the league title with Pacelli and the consolation title of the WCIAA State Tournament.
|NAME||HEIGHT||GRADUATION YEAR||HIGH SCHOOL|
|Doug (Boola) Gill||5'9"||1951||Lincoln|
Notes (1950s): Doug (Boola) Gill (5-9) was a standout guard on Lincoln's 1951 WIAA state-championship squad. Playing for coach Phil Manders, Gill had 12 points in a state quarterfinal win over Menasha, 15 in a semifinal triumph over Menomonie and 19 in a 64-55 win over Madison West in the championship game. A first-team all-Wisconsin Valley Conference performer who was instrumental in the Red Raiders' memorable 24-2 season, Gill went on to earn three letters in men's basketball at Marquette University ... Center Charley Gurtler (6-5) joined Gill on the WIAA all-tournament team after scoring 31 against Menasha, 27 against Menomonie and 18 against Madison West. Also a first-team all-Wisconsin Valley Conference performer for coach Phil Manders, Gurtler went on to play college basketball at the University of Minnesota ... Jim Ritchay (5-11) joined Gill in the Red Raiders' backcourt in 1950-51 and was the third player on coach Phil Manders' squad to excel after high school. He scored a then-school record 1,368 points during his collegiate career at St. Norbert College and was inducted into the school's Hall of Fame in 1987. Ritchay is the son of former Lincoln principal A.A. Ritchay, who scored a state-record 88 points in Mellen's 107-9 victory over Butternut in 1917.
Notes (1940s): Moving to Wisconsin Rapids from Janesville for his senior year, Dean Showers (6-3) was a member of what many consider the best team in Wisconsin Rapids' history. The 1948-49 squad coached by Phil Manders took a 24-0 record into the WIAA State Tournament, but lost in the quarterfinals 55-49 to Wauwatosa and in the consolation semifinals 41-39 to Monroe. Showers, a first-team all-Wisconsin Valley Conference performer, led the way for the Raiders in both games with 12 points. He went on to play college basketball at Drake ... Mike Daly (5-7) was a key member of Lincoln teams that played in the WIAA State Tournament in 1948 and 1949. The two-time first-team all-Wisconsin Valley Conference performer played at the foward position despite his small stature. He was able to handle the ball well and feed teammates with excellent passes, but he could also hold his own in the paint. Daly went on to play college basketball for one year at Drake and three seasons for coach Bud Foster at Wisconsin ... Bob Mader (6-0) was considered the best player in Wisconsin in 1946 and he helped Lincoln to a share of the Wisconsin Valley Conference title and earned first-team all-league honors as a junior and senior for coach Phil Manders. In the 1946 WIAA State Tournament, Mader had 22 points in a quarterfinal victory over Tomah and 21 in a semifinal loss in overtime to Reedsville. He also had 17 points before 4,000 fans in the Lincoln Fieldhouse in a 39-33 victory over Antigo in the sectional final. Mader went on to play college basketball for coach Bud Foster at Wisconsin.
|NAME||HEIGHT||GRADUATION YEAR||HIGH SCHOOL||POINTS|
|Bret Van Dyken||6'6"||1995||Lincoln||1,124|
|Eric Van Dyken||6'6"||1992||Lincoln||893|
Notes (2000s): A man-child in the paint, Joe Grundhoffer (6-6) was voted Player of the Year in the Marawood North Conference as a junior in 2016-17 and as a senior in 2017-18. His ability to finish through contact in the lane and his consistency were huge assets for coach Gary Weisenbeck and Assumption. Grundhoffer earned first-team all-Marawood honors three times and scored 1,380 career points, second most in Wisconsin Rapids history. He now is an offensive lineman at 6-foot-6 and 300 pounds at Lafayette ... Chase Lamp (6-2) was a dead-eye shooter for coach Gary Weisenbeck at Assumption. He earned unanimous first-team all-Marawood North Conference honors as a junior in 2013-14 and as a senior in 2014-15. Lamp scored a career-high 33 points in a victory over Newman Catholic as a junior and scored 1,135 career points ... Vinny Ritchay (6-1) earned first-team all-Wisconsin Valley Conference recognition as a junior and senior at Lincoln, and shared Player of the Year honors in the league in 2007 with Jake Smith of Rhinelander. Ritchay averaged 18.5 ppg as a senior and 18.8 ppg as a junior for coach Dan Witter. He also saw some varsity playing time as a sophomore when the Raiders advanced to the WIAA State Tournament. Ritchay went on to play college basketball at UW-Stevens Point ... Playing for his father and coach, Gary Weisenbeck, Garret Weisenbeck (6-2) scored 1,158 points during his prep career at Assumption. A unanimous first-team all-conference player as a senior, Weisenbeck averaged 14.2 ppg as a senior in 2006-07 and helped the Royals to a share of the Marawood North Conference title. He went on to play four years at Ripon College and now is an assistant under his father at Assumption ... Dan Zastava (6-2) was an athletic, four-year player at Lincoln, competing for three seasons under coach Jim Fitzgerald and one year for Dan Witter. He earned first-team all-Wisconsin Valley Conference honors as a senior and second-team laurels as a junior. He finished his prep career with 1,085 points.
Notes (1990s): Eric Van Dyken (6-6) averaged 15.4 points and 8.3 rebounds as a senior for coach Jim Fitzgerald and the Red Raiders, who finished the 1991-92 campaign with a 14-8 record. The first-team all-Wisconsin Valley Conference performer finished third in the league in scoring and first in the conference in rebounding. As a junior, Van Dyken helped Lincoln to the league championship and received second-team all-WVC laurels. He went on to play four seasons at Ripon College and earned second-team all-Midwest Conference honors as a junior and senior.
Notes (1970s): Rob Schneeberg (6-5) may have been the most proficient player in the history of high school basketball in Wisconsin Rapids. The 1979 Lincoln graduate set Wisconsin Valley Conference records for best field-goal percentage in a season (71 percent) and career (65 percent), and later did the same in college at Minnesota-Duluth as he currently ranks third on the school's all-time list of best career field-goal percentage at 59.5 percent. A first-team all-league player as a senior and second-team choice as a junior, Schneeberg helped coach Jack Bennett's squads to a share of the conference title in both 1978 and 1979. As a junior, Schneeberg and senior teammate Dan Hancock (6-0) led the Raiders to a 21-3 record and a spot in the WIAA State Tournament. In a 55-53 loss to Beloit Memorial in the state semifinals, Schneeberg scored 24 points ... A three-year varsity performer for coach Jack Cepak at Lincoln, Bruce Thomas (6-2) graduated in the spring of 1971 as the school's all-time leading scorer with 978 career points. He led the Wisconsin Valley Conference in scoring as a junior and finished second as a senior while earning first-team all-league recognition each season. Thomas scored 40 points in a single game twice during his prep career and had 26 in the Raiders' 82-72 WIAA regional-final loss to Wausau in his final game. Thomas went on to play college basketball at both Northern Michigan and Winona State.
Notes (1960s): Steve Krumrei (5-9) is one of the premier athletes in the history of Assumption and was inducted into the school's first Hall of Fame class in 2002. He scored a then-school record 1,280 points in four varsity seasons playing for coaches Gordie Lewison and Dick Knar Sr. Krumrei set a Central Wisconsin Catholic Conference record for most points in a game as a junior when he had 49 in victory over Stevens Point Pacelli. A two-time unanimous first-team all-Central Wisconsin Catholic Conference performer, Krumrei also excelled in football and baseball, earning a spot on the Associated Press second-team all-state football team in 1965. He went on to play college football at North Dakota State.
Additional Notes (2000s): Joe Ritchay (6-3) came into his own as a senior playing for coach Dan Witter at Lincoln. He averaged 9.4 ppg as a junior on a team that went 10-14, but he improved his average to 19.0 ppg as a senior and led the Raiders to the Wisconsin Valley Conference title and a 21-2 record. Ritchay earned Player of the Year laurels in the league in 2006-07 and went on to become an all-league player at UW-Stevens Point, scoring 995 points during his collegiate career ... Clayton Heuer (6-9) averaged just 2.3 ppg as a sophomore for the varsity team at Lincoln, but the hard-working post player came on strong for coach Dan Witter as a junior and senior, earning first-team all-Wisconsin Valley Conference honors each season. The Player of the Year in the league in 2009 and an honorable mention all-state selection by the Associated Press scored 813 career points and went on to play college basketball at UW-Green Bay and UW-Stevens Point ... Alex Erdmann (6-2) moved to Wisconsin Rapids from the Twin Cities and played well for two seasons for coach Gary Weisenbeck at Assumption. As a senior in 2008-09, Erdmann earned Player of the Year honors in the Marawood Conference while leading the Royals to the league title, a 24-3 overall record and a runner-up finish in the WIAA Division 5 State Tournament. He had 20 points and seven steals in a state-tournament semifinal victory over St. Mary Catholic. His seven steals still stands as a single-game WIAA record in Division 4. Erdmann went on to play college basketball at Ripon College and averaged 5.1 points and 2.3 rebounds as a senior in 2012-13 ... Matt Turba (5-11) was a teammate of Erdmann's and also excelled for the Royals, using his quickness and aggressiveness to spear heard coach Gary Weisenbeck's 1-3-1 zone defense. Turba earned first-team all-Marawood Conference honors as a senior in 2009 and was a key performer for three straight league title teams. He went on to play college basketball at Viterbo University and scored 1,278 points during his stellar collegiate career with the V-Hawks.
Additional Notes (1970s): Mike (Spike) Jeffery (6-7) was a two-year starter at Assumption and shared Player of the Year honors in the Central Wisconsin Catholic Conference as a senior in 1978-79 with Owen Glodowski of Stevens Point Pacelli. Jeffery averaged 17.1 points and 11.1 rebouds as a senior for coach Bob Olson and helped the Royals to an 18-4 record and a share of the league title. Jeffery went on to play in 108 games and snared 432 rebounds in a four-year career at UW-Whitewater. He now is the head coach of the boys' basketball program at Cambridge ... Mark Thibodeau (5-9) earned first-team all-Central Wisconsin Catholic Conference honors as a senior at Assumption in 1969-70 and scored 687 points in two varsity seasons for coach Bob Olson. He went on to earn all-Wisconsin State University Conference honors at UW-La Crosse ... Mike Ruehl (6-1) joined Thibodeau on the 1970 all-CWCC first-team and scored 389 points (17.7 ppg) as a senior for Assumption. He went on to play college football at the University of South Dakota ...