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Observations from the 6th annual WI vs. IL Border Battle

02/12/2024, 1:00pm CST
By Mark Miller

Wisconsin won four of eight games in the sixth annual Wisconsin vs. Illinois Border Battle held Saturday at The Prairie School in Racine. 

Wisconsin now has a 24-17 edge over Illinois in the games played in the event.

Following are observations from each contest:

Game One
Burlington (WI) 58, Antioch (IL) 22

*** Burlington continued its late-season roll with an absolutely dominating performance against an Antioch squad that won at least a share of the Northern Lake County Conference on Friday night. Three players scored in double figures for the Demons, who raced out to a commanding 34-14 halftime lead and never looked back. Drew Lang (12 points), Connor Roffers (10 points) and Jack Sulik (10 points) led the way as Burlington improved to 15-5 under co-coaches Kyle Scott and Steve Berezowitz. 
** Burlington made 11 three-point baskets in the contest, led by Lang with four from beyond the arc. The Demons' strong perimeter shooting helped to create a big early lead and, coupled with strong defense on the other end, put the game out of reach for the Sequoits 10 minutes into the contest. 
** The Demons have won six in a row, including recent impressive triumphs over Stoughton and Westosha Central. The Demons can get no less than a share of the Southern Lakes Conference title with wins over Wilmot (twice) and Badger. 
*** Burlington's strong defensive effort helped to establish a Wisconsin vs. Illinois Border Battle record as Antioch's 22 points is the lowest team effort in the history of the event.

Drew Lang

Wisconsin Player of the Game
Drew Lang, 6-2, Sr., G

The torrid shooting of Lang has played a huge role in Burlington's last three victories. He drilled four triples in each outing and is making 43 percent (35 of 81) from three-point range on the season. Lang is averaging 8.8 ppg and 2.9 rpg and is an important cog in the Demons' success on both ends of the court. 

Game Two
Prospect (IL) 63, West Allis Central (WI) 49

** Prospect improved to 22-7 with the victory and used its superior experience to slowly pull away from talented but very young West Allis Central. The Knights started five seniors while coach Dave Mlachnik started three seniors, a sophomore and a freshman. Additionally, three of the top four players off the bench for the Bulldogs are underclassmen.
** West Allis Central continues to play without standout sophomore Yusef Gray Jr. (6-3), the state's top-ranked class of 2027 prospect. Gray is recovering from an injury sustained in a January 5 victory over Greendal. Gray hopes to return in time for the WIAA playoffs, but whether he does or not remains uncertain. He is averaging 21.6 ppg and 6.6 rpg. 
** Sophomore Kevin Pittman (6-10) is making positive strides in his game for West Allis Central. The big man had 22 points in a loss to Pius XI Catholic on Friday evening, and came off the bench to score eight points against Prospect. Pittman is running the floor better and is able to score near the basket with his size and strength.

Wisconsin Player of the Game
Max Jones, 6-3, Frosh., G

Jones was not in the starting rotation for the Bulldogs, but he made his presence felt, particularly in the first half when he was able to get to the basket and either finish or get to the foul line. The strong 6-foot-3 wing prospect finished with a team-best 13 points and is averaging 15.3 points and 6.3 rebounds for the Bulldogs. He also is getting to the free-throw line an average of just over five times per contest.

LaTrevion Fenderson

Game Three
Waubonsie Valley (IL) 61, The Prairie School (WI) 40

** Waubonsie Valley improved to 24-2 by breaking away from a very young team from The Prairie School halfway through the first half. The Warriors led 39-21 at intermission and cruised to a 61-40 triumph behind the athleticism and skill of senior Tre Blissett (12 points) and junior Moses Wilson (21 points).
** The quickness and relentless pressure on the perimeter exerted by Waunbonsie Valley took its toll on the Hawks as guards Carsen Eeg, Ryan Vanoss, Chandler Perry and LaTrevion Fenderson slowly but surely wore down and began to commit live-ball turnovers.
** Coach Jason Atanasoff started five underclassmen, including three freshmen in Dalton Ahlensdorf (6-4), Perry (6-2) and Vanoss (5-9). Eeg and Fenderson, both juniors, also started for The Prairie School, which slipped to 11-11.

Wisconsin Player of the Game
LaTrevion Fenderson, 6-5, Jr., G/F

Even with Waubonsie Valley coach Dan Schweitzer yelling at his players to "keep the ball out of (Fenderson's) hands," the talented junior managed to score a game-best 22 points. Fenderson was especially difficult to contain once he opted to attack the basket. He either got all the way to the hoop and scored or pulled up for a smooth mid-range jump shot. Fenderson, who owns NCAA Division I scholarship offers from Milwaukee and Wisconsin, is averaging 22.1 ppg and 11.3 rpg.  

Game Four
Buffalo Grove (IL) 75, Kenosha St. Joseph (68)

** In the most entertaining game of the day, Buffalo Grove held off a second-half charge from game Kenosha St. Joseph to improve to 15-13 as sharpshooting guard Connor Woodin dropped in 35 points and drilled four triples. 
** St. Joseph trailed 41-31 at intermission, but managed to cut the deficit to just one point at 68-67 with about two minutes left. But Buffalo Grove made a few defensive stops and swished its free throws over the final two minutes to register the victory. 
** Sophomore Dominic Santarelli (6-1), one of the state's elite baseball prospects in the 2026 class, scored 20 points and used his physical strength and wide frame to score over taller Buffalo Grove defenders in the lane.
** Freshman Christpher Kenesie (5-10) also turned in a strong game for the Lancers, finishing with 12 points and making a huge three-point shot to help fuel the St. Joseph rally.

Wisconsin Player of the Game
Eric Kenesie, 6-1, Sr., PG

One of my absolute favorite players to watch in Wisconsin because of his non-stop activity and off-the-charts basketball IQ, Kenesie had two defenders run at him every time he touched the ball. That limited his looks at the basket, but he still managed to score a team-high 24 points and was efficient in doing so. He also dropped some beautiful assists to his cutting teammates. Kenesie remains undecided about his future and is considering options in both football and basketball. 

Game Five
Mukwonago (WI) 68, Fremd (IL) 63

** Mukwonago played well from the opening tip and managed a 34-28 lead at intermission. Although Fremd (16-9) pushed the Indians throughout the second half, Mukwonago got enough big plays from its strong underclassmen to post its 11th win in 21 outings. 
** Junior forward Caleb Poling led the way for Mukwonago with 17 points while junior guard Peyton Pollnow added 17, including a pair of clutch free throws with the game on the line in the closing minute. Junior Josh Hayden also had a strong outing for the Indians with 13 points.
** Coach Steve Pollnow's squad is playing at a high level and has won six of its last seven contests, including Classic Eight Conference wins over Catholic Memorial, Waukesha North, Waukesha West and non-league conquests of Fremd, Waterford and West Allis Hale. 
** Mukwonago's 12-man varsity roster includes 10 juniors and two sophomores. Not a single senior plays basketball at Mukwonago in 2023-24.

Wisconsin Player of the Game
Caleb Poling, 6-5, Jr., F

A big man with a soft shooting touch and very good shooting skills, Poling showed the ability to score around the basket with his size and strength while also stepping outside and nailing two huge second-half three-point shots. In addition to his 17 points, Poling also grabbed 10 rebounds. Poling currently leads Mukwonago in scoring (15.3 ppg), rebounding (7.8 rpg) and assists (2.2 apg). 

Jamarion Batemon

Game Six
Milwaukee Academy of Science (WI) 82, Niles North (IL) 64

** Milwaukee Academy of Science was on the top of its game Saturday in its win over Niles North. The Novas took a 34-23 lead at halftime, displayed their highly impressive athleticism and scoring punch in the second half and breezed to its 15th win in 20 games against a Niles North team that slipped to 22-7.
** Junior Jamarion Batemon (6-3), who owns scholarship offers from Illinois, Iowa State and Marquette, among others, encountered some foul trouble but still managed to score 19 points, hit three triples, make the right pass at the right time and use his quickness, length and locked-in demeanor on defense to make things tough on Niles North.
** While Batemon and junior Devin Brown get most of the media coverage for MAS, coach Agape Keys Sr.'s squad boasts a deep roster with other very talented players, including his son, Agape Keys Jr., a 6-foot-2 junior wing who scored 11 points. Junior Amare Jackson (6-5) also had a very strong outing for MAS and finished with 14 points, including a one-handed tomahawk dunk off a drive from the baseline. 

Devin Brown

Wisconsin Player of the Game
Devin Brown, 6-7, Jr., F

Brown is an intriguing prospect and a very difficult matchup. He has good size, very good skill and impressive athleticism as a player. And he is tough to defend because of his ability to handle the ball, score off the dribble and be active on the glass. His 28 points against Niles North included a number of highlight dunks. He is averaging 18.4 ppg and 9.6 rpg for MAS and owns NCAA Division I scholarship offers from Bradley, Bryant, Detroit Mercy, Grambling State, Milwaukee, Mississippi State, Valparaiso and Western Illinois.

Game Seven
Wisconsin Lutheran (WI) 65, Deerfield (IL) 28

** This game simply was no contest from the start, despite Deerfield playing well of late and coming in with a 15-12 record while competing in a large-school conference with several outstanding teams. Wisconsin Lutheran improved to 21-0 by racing to a 32-9 lead at intermission and coasted the rest of the way as Kon Knueppel (16 points), Zavier Zens (11 points), Isaiah Mellock (10 points) and Logan Rindfleisch (18 points) all scored in double figures.
** Knueppel, the Duke recruit and top-ranked senior in Wisconsin in the WSN Player Rankings, had a hard time figuring out the tight rims at The Prairie School and missed all nine of his three-point attempts. Still, he managed to score 16 points, grab seven rebounds, hand out eight assists and come up with two steals. The Mr. Basketball award finalist is averaging a team-best 25.9 points, 8.8 rebounds and 5.0 assists. 
** Zens continues to make impressive strides in his game. The talented 6-foot-6 sophomore missed much of last season with an injury, but has become a starter for the state's top team and is contributing at a high level. He had 11 points, six rebounds and four assists against Deerfield, and is averaging 9.5 ppg, 4.5 rpg and 2.5 apg.

Logan Rindfleisch

Wisconsin Player of the Game
Logan Rindfleisch, 6-5, Sr., G/F

The UW-Oshkosh recruit was outstanding against Deerfield, flashing his offensive versatility, his defensive prowess and his overall strong feel for the game. Rindfleisch finished with a team-high 18 points on eight-of-10 shooting while also contributing four rebounds, one assist, one steal and an impressive dunk. He is averaging 13.9 points and 3.0 rebounds on the season.

Game Eight
Chicago Brother Rice (IL) 91, Verona (WI) 83

** In an entertaining game with lots of momentum swings, Brother Rice used a late spurt to turn back Verona and improve to 26-3 on the season. Brother Rice is one game behind DePaul Prep in the Chicago Catholic League -- Blue Division standings under coach Conte Stamas.
** Brother Rice led throughout much of the contest and took a 47-36 advantage at halftime, but Verona played with lots of energy and toughness and pulled within 64-62 on a three-point basket from Mason Sherry with eight minutes left. But dynamo senior point guard Cale Cosme (5-9) and talented senior forward Zavier Fitch (6-7) made big plays down the stretch for Brother Rice.
** Junior Tre Poteat (6-2) had 21 points, junior Drew Murphy (6-6) had 20 points and junior Cameron Williams (6-3) added 16 for Verona, which has just one senior on its varsity roster.

Wisconsin Player of the Game
Mason Sherry, 6-6, Sr., F

Sherry played one of the best games of his varsity career against a high-quality opponent. He scored 20 points, nailed two big second-half three-point baskets, made four-of-five free throws and also scored on drives to the basket. His physical presence in the lane made things difficult at times for Brother Rice to finish around the basket. Sherry is averaging 7.6 ppg for Verona, now 12-8 under coach Curtrel Robinson. 

For the latest and most up to date boys' basketball news and recruiting information, follow Mark on Twitter @wisbbyearbook. Email story ideas, recruiting info, etc. to Mark by clicking here.

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