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Final thoughts of boys' WIAA State Tournament

03/19/2024, 12:15pm CDT
By Mark Miller

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The 108th WIAA State Basketball Tournament is now in the books with Marquette (Division 1), Wisconsin Lutheran (Division 2), Saint Thomas More (Division 3), Mineral Point (Division 4) and Columbus Catholic (Division 5) capturing state championships.

Here are some final thoughts from this past weekend:

Division 1 All-Tournament Team

Nolan Minessale

Most Valuable Player

Nolan Minessale, 6-5, Sr., G/F, Marquette

Minessale was at his best in Marquette's 84-62 victory over Arrowhead in the Division 1 title game. The NCAA Division I recruit for the University of St. Thomas had 29 points, six rebounds, five assists, four blocked shots and one steal as Marquette won its first WIAA state basketball title after capturing the Division 1 football crown last fall. Minessale's athleticism was on full display as he had some monster dunks and some huge blocks as Marquette finished the season 26-4 under coach Casey Kowalewski. Minessale finished his three-year prep career with 1,695 points and averaged 22.1 points, 6.6 rebounds, 4.6 assists and 1.6 steals as senior.

All-Tournament Team
Nolan Minessale, 6-5, Sr., G/F, Marquette
Jace Gilbert, 6-5, Sr., F, Arrowhead
Brady Corso, 6-1, Sr., G, Neenah
Jeremiah Johnson, 6-2, Jr., G, Marquette
Bennett Basich, 6-4, Sr., G, Arrowhead

Division 2 All-Tournament Team

Kon Knueppel

Most Valuable Player

Kon Knueppel, 6-6, Sr., G, Wisconsin Lutheran

The Duke recruit simply did whatever was needed for Wisconsin Lutheran. He scored, rebounded, passed, handled the ball and controlled the pace of the game as Wisconsin Lutheran beat Nicolet and Pewaukee to finish as the only undefeated team in the state at 30-0. In the title-game win over Pewaukee, Knueppel took just seven shots and scored 11 points, yet was the best player on the floor as he also contributed 11 assists, five rebounds and two steals while committing just one turnover despite having the ball in his hands for much of the contest. Knueppel finished his four-year prep career with 1,978 points.

All-Tournament Team
Kon Knueppel, 6-6, Sr., G, Wisconsin Lutheran
Nacir Beamon, 6-4, Sr., G, Nicolet
Logan Rindfleisch, 6-5, Sr., G/F, Wisconsin Lutheran
Luka Momcilovic, 6-8, Jr., F, Pewaukee
Nick Janowski, 6-3, Sr., G, Pewaukee

Division 3 All-Tournament Team

Sekou Konneh

Most Valuable Player

Sekou Konneh, 6-9, Sr., F, Saint Thomas More
The lanky forward finished with a double/double in both of Saint Thomas More's victories at the state tournament. He had 22 points, 12 rebounds, three assists and four steals against Prescott, and then followed up that showing with another masterpiece in the title game, scoring 20 points, grabbing 14 rebounds and blocking a shot in the win over Lakeside Lutheran. Bradley, Milwaukee and USC are among the schools continuing to show strong interest in Konneh.

All-Tournament Team
Sekou Konneh, 6-9, Sr., F, Saint Thomas More
Amari McCottry, 6-6, Sr., G, Saint Thomas More
Wes Rahn, 6-7, Soph., F, Lakeside Lutheran
Kaycee Guzman, 5-10, Jr., G, Lakeside Lutheran
Grant Manz, 6-6, Sr., F, Kiel

Division 4 All-Tournament Team

Landon Thousand

Most Valuable Player

Landon Thousand, 6-2, Sr., G, Mineral Point
Thousand got the pleasure of living every player's dream -- hitting a game-winning shot in the state tournament. His three from the right wing with just a couple of seconds left capped a wild 8-0 run over the final minute of the game and helped Mineral Point to a 62-61 win over Aquinas in the D4 semifinals. Thousand finished with 24 points, seven rebounds and five assists. In another one-point game, a 65-64 win over Kenosha St. Joseph in the D4 title game, Thousand had 15 points, six rebounds and eight assists. 

All-Tournament Team
Landon Thousand, 6-2, Sr., G, Mineral Point
Jaxson Wendhausen, 6-2, Sr., G, Mineral Point
Eric Kenesie, 6-1, Sr., G, Kenosha St. Joseph
Logan Becker, 6-2, Soph., G, Aquinas
Eli Lindsey, 6-5, Jr., G, Mineral Point

Division 5 All-Tournament Team

Emmitt Konieczny

Most Valuable Player

Emmitt Konieczny, 6-1, Sr., G, Columbus Catholic
In late November, Konieczny was in a hospital bed in Neenah wondering if he'd get the chance to ever play high school basketball again for his dad/coach, Joe Konieczny, and with his teammates. Involved in a serious car accident, Emmitt missed nine games while recovering from his injuries. Thankfully, he returned to the Dons' lineup in January. He may have turned in his best showing of the season in Columbus Catholic's win over Abundant Life Christian in the D5 title game. The Lakeland University recruit had 31 points, five rebounds, two assists and three steals in the game. Moreover, he made all 10 of his foul shots and connected on five-of-10 from outside the three-point arc. Konieczny also had 14 points, seven rebounds and four assists in the semifinal win over Solon Springs. He finishes his four-year prep career with 1,329 points.

All-Tournament Team
Emmitt Konieczny, 6-1, Sr., G, Columbus Catholic
Cy Becker, 6-2, Sr., F, Columbus Catholic
Isaiah Kastern, 6-5, Sr., F, Solon Springs
J.D. Davison, 6-4, Sr., F/C, Abundant Life Christian
Jonah Koon, 6-1, Jr., G, Abundant Life Christian

Biggest Stock Boosters

Division 1

Jeremiah Johnson, 6-3, Sr., G, Marquette
Johnson's speed in the open court and quickness in the half court were important factors in Marquette's victories over Kettle Moraine and Arrowhead at the state tournament. In the final against Arrowhead, the long and skilled junior scored 14 points and drilled all three of his shots from outside the arc. He also had six asssts, a steal and just turnover. Johnson owns a NCAA Division I scholarship offer from Howard. 

Trey Resch, 6-1, Frosh., G, Arrowhead
Resch proved he is one of the elite class of 2027 prospects in the state with two strong showings for Arrowhead at the Kohl Center. He came off the bench to score 15 points and play strong defense in the Warhawks' four-overtime win over Neenah in the semifinals and then added a couple of three-point baskets in the finals against Marquette. Resch is aggressive and quick with the ball, and has an accurate shot from distance. He averaged 8.7 ppg for coach Craig Haase's squad.

Division 2

Kyle Hehli, 6-0, Jr., G, West Salem
Hehli is a bit on the small side, but that doesn't prevent him from taking and making shots for the up-tempo squad at West Salem. The first-team all-Coulee Conference selection had a team-best 19 points in West Salem's 89-69 loss to Pewaukee in the semifinals. He also contributed six rebounds and six assists in the contest. Hehli finished the season with 73 made three-point baskets.  

Luka Momcilovic, 6-8, Jr., F, Pewaukee
The younger brother of former Mr. Basketball-award winner Milan Momcilovic, Luka Momcilovic is beginning to show he is a terrific player in his own right. Like his older brother, Luka can stretch the floor with his three-point shooting as he showed in drilling four-of-five from deep in Pewaukee's win over West Salem. He scored 23 points and had 13 rebounds in that game. In the title game against Wisconsin Lutheran, Momcilovic contributed 13 points and three rebounds. He currently owns NCAA Division II scholarship offers from Michigan Tech and Northern Michigan.

Zavier Zens, 6-6, Soph., G, Wisconsin Lutheran
It seemed like every time you turned around, Zens was making a big play for Wisconsin Lutheran. Whether he was scoring off cuts to the basket or knocking down perimeter shots, Zens was a key cog in the Vikings' 30-0 record and Division 2 state championship. In the title game against Pewaukee, the versatile wing had 16 points, three rebounds and three assists. In the state-semifinal triumph over Nicolet, Zens contributed nine points, four rebounds and two assists. 

Division 3

Kaycee Guzman, 5-10, Jr., PG, Lakeside Lutheran
Guzman is about as crafty and smart with the ball in his hands as any other player in Wisconsin. His ability to weave in and around the defense to either score or set up his teammates was extremely impressive at the state tournament. That skill was most evident when he drove the lane and put up a high-arching shot over Kiel defenders in the final seconds of the Division 3 semifinals to give Lakeside Lutheran a 57-55 victory. Guzman had 21 points and three assists in that contest, then scored 16 points in the Warriors' loss to Saint Thomas More in the D3 title contest. 

Kenari Parr, 6-2, Jr., G, Saint Thomas More
Parr has the size, physical strength and proper mindset to be a lock-down defender and he did well on that end of the floor at the state tournament. The talented wing prospect also found the basket, scoring eight points against Prescott and six in the title-game win over Lakeside Lutheran. WIth Amari McCottry, Kyle Alivo, Evan Oleson and Sekou Konneh all graduating, Parr figures to develop into the go-to player for coach Tony Mane's squad next winter.

Kobe Russell, 6-1, Soph., G, Prescott
Russell is a developing backcourt prospect who seems to get better by the day. He didn't back down against the talented squad from Saint Thomas More in the semifinals, scoring 11 points and grabbing eight rebounds. His size, strength and athleticism were all impressive traits as he continues to hone his ball handling and shooting skills. Earned honorable mention all-Middle Border Conference recognition as a sophomore and figures to be a player to watch over the next two seasons for coach Nick Johnson. 

Wes Rahn, 6-7, Soph., F, Lakeside Lutheran
Perhaps the most impressive young player in the state tournament, Rahn has a bright future ahead of him, particularly if he grows another inch or two. The mobile, versatile and unselfish forward can score inside, outside and above the rim. He also rebounds at a high level and is a good ball handling for a player of his size and age. Rahn had 13 points, nine rebounds and four assists in the title-game loss to Saint Thomas More. The unanimous first-team all-Capitol North selection also had 20 points, 18 rebounds and three blocked shots against Kiel. 

Divisions 4/5

Logan Becker, 6-2, Soph., G, Aquinas
Becker scored 27 points in the Blugolds' 62-61 loss to Mineral Point in the Division 4 semifinals. He took over the game late, scoring seven straight points in a two-minute period to give Aquinas a 61-54 lead with 1:09 left. Becker made nine-of-12 shots from the floor and nine-of-11 from the foul line while also drawing seven fouls on Mineral Point. Becker averaged 15.8 points, 3.9 rebounds and 1.9 assists as a sophomore.

Mac Konieczny, 5-10, Soph., G, Columbus Catholic
The youngest son of Columbus Catholic coach Joe Konieczny, Mac Konieczny came off the bench to provide solid play in both of the Dons' victories at state. In the title-game win over Abundant Life Christian, Konieczny had nine points, three rebounds, six assists and three steals. He also had seven points in the semifinal triumph over Solon Springs. Konieczny's defense is probably his biggest asset, but he figures to take a bigger role offensively next year as the Dons lose nine seniors to graduation. 

Jaxson Wendhausen, 6-2, Jr., G, Mineral Point
Wendhausen's ability to shoot was a huge factor in Mineral Point winning the first state basketball title in school history. The 6-foot-2 wing can get shots off in a hurry and made 70-of-157 tries from three-point range as a junior for 45 percent. Wendhausen six-of-10 triple attempts and scored 20 points in the Pointers' 65-64 win over Kenosha St. Joseph in the D4 title game.

Best Game

Several games went down to the final seconds, most notably Mineral Point's wins over Aquinas and Kenosha St. Joseph, and Wisconsin Lutheran's triumph over Nicolet. But the game that stands out the most, without a doubt, is the four-overtime thriller won by Arrowhead over Neenah in the Division 1 semifinals. In the longest game in WIAA state-tournament history, Neenah got a three-point basket from Justin Janssen off an assist from Brady Corso just seconds before the horn sounded to end regulation, sending the contest into overtime deadlocked at 67. Neenah had chances to win the game at the end of the first, second and third overtimes, but the Rockets couldn't get a score as Arrowhead tightened its defense. In the fourth overtime, Arrowhead led for good once Bennett Basich converted a layup 30 seconds in. Neenah kept it close, but Arrowhead secured the triumph on two charity tosses from freshman Blake Basich with just seconds remaining in the epic confrontation. 

Best Individual Performance

Jace Gilbert of Arrowhead is best known for his exploits on the football field. After all, he is headed to Iowa State on a football scholarship. But he was awfully good on the basketball court for the Warhawks at the state tournament, particularly in the four-overtime win over Neenah. The rugged and highly skilled 6-foot-5 forward finished the contest with 34 points and 14 rebounds. He also drew six fouls on Neenah defenders, handed out an assist and had one blocked shot. Gilbert made 15-of-19 shots from the field, but just four-of-11 from the foul line. Still, his presence on the court was a huge asset on nearly every possession for Arrowhead.

Best Individual Play

Certainly, Kaycee Guzman's driving, contested layup that banked in high off the glass backboard with just seconds left for Lakeside Lutheran in its 57-55 Division 3 semifinal win over Kiel ranked among the best plays of the tournament.

Ditto, for Drew Aschliman's putback basket with just seconds left that gave Mineral Point a 65-64 win over Kenosha St. Joseph in the Division 4 title game. 

But the most memorable play didn't involve scoring. Rather, it featured Kon Knueppel's defensive instincts and his ability to soar high into the air. Knueppel's massive blocked shot, seemingly out of nowhere, on a layup attempt by Nicolet's Damon Landrum with the score tied and just 40 seconds left likely kept Wisconsin Lutheran undefeated. Knueppel blocked what would have likely been a go-ahead basket for Nicolet hard off the backboard. It caromed out to teammate Isaiah Mellock, who grabbed the rebound. After a timeout, Knueppel drove to his right, slipped and had the tipped. It eventually landed in the hands of teammate Zavier Zens, who immediately tossed a pass to Alex Greene under the basket. Greene put in a short bank shot as the horn sounded to give Wisconsin Lutheran a 56-54 victory. 

Prediction Results

After finishing 10-5 in state-tournament predictions, here are my final results for this year.

Division 1: 52-17 (75 percent)
Division 2: 84-9 (90 percent)
Division 3: 78-18 (81 percent)
Division 4: 78-18 (81 percent)
Division 5: 108-18 (86 percent)
Total: 400-85 (82 percent)

Final Tidbits ...

Wisconsin Lutheran coach Ryan Walz became the 15th coach in WIAA history to guide his team to three state championships. Now in his 16th season as the Vikings' head coach, Walz also directed Wisconsin Lutheran to state crowns in 2009 and 2014 ... Columbus Catholic shattered two Division 5 state records for three-point shooting. The Dons' 27 triples over two games surpassed the 19 threes Racine Lutheran made in two contests in 2012. Columbus Catholic also set the record for most threes in a single game with 14 in its D5 title-game win over Abundant Life Christian ... Neenah qualified for the state tournament for the third year in a row and now holds the record for most state-tournament appearances with 30 ... Some 96 years ago, Marquette won its first state title, winning the Catholic Invitational title in 1928. The Hilltoppers won 15 private schools championships before the private and public schools merged in 2000. This was the Hilltoppers first WIAA title in basketball ... Pewaukee and Wisconsin Lutheran will move from Division 2 to Division 1 and Kenosha St. Joseph will go from D4 to D3 next year as part of the WIAA's Tournament Performance Factor.

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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