Ashwaubenon searching for more after regional championship
By Murray Gleffe
ASHWAUBENON – The Ashwaubenon boys’ basketball team enjoyed a stellar season in 2020-21.
Midway through the campaign, the Jaguars won 16 straight games, including victories over Bay Port, De Pere and Notre Dame Academy.
Ashwaubenon closed the regular season with wins over Menominee and Homestead and carried the momentum into the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association Division 2 playoffs, where it defeated Notre Dame in a regional final before losing to Seymour in the sectionals.
“The kids bought in and understood their roles,” Ashwaubenon Head Coach Mark Tomashek said. “We started slow but played better basketball toward the end of the season. They started to believe and got tougher.”
This year’s squad will look much the same in the backcourt but different in the frontcourt.
If the Jaguars are to compete for a Fox River Classic Conference Championship (FRCC), it most likely will have to get production from its big men.
As juniors, Marcus Tomashek and Matt Imig pumped in more than 38 points per game combined.
Their leadership as seniors will be leaned upon because small forward Boone Kirst is the only other player returning who saw significant playing time last year.
“We’re looking to do more than we did last year,” Imig said. “I want to get better as a player but also make my teammates better. We need to get out of the blocks early.”
Imig said Bay Port, De Pere and Notre Dame are his biggest three rivals and said his step-back triple is his favorite move in crunch time.
With Kyle Krueger graduated and Eli Zollar out with an injury, Ashwaubenon could be dealt a tough hand in the frontcourt early unless numerous newcomers make an impact.
“When you have to replace (Krueger) and other seniors (such as Brady Wittig), it’s a huge loss,” Tomashek said. “You don’t replace their production. You must find other ways to get it done. You have to find guys to plug in, step up and do their job.”
Seniors Cayden Walton and Max Huguet are two players who have stayed with the program through limited playing time.
Both will be counted on down low.
Junior Zach Kelly is an undersized post who will also be in the hunt to mix it up in the paint.
“They all want to be successful,” Tomashek said. “They want to put the work in.”
The Jaguars’ pecking order in the FRCC could hinge on whether four sophomores can contribute to the lineup.
Drew Tomashek, Eason Hurd, Jayden Schoen and Jackson Sims were all behind upperclassmen last season and most played junior varsity basketball to get stronger.
However, the quartet has shown glimpses at the lower-level scene, which may indicate contributions from the start.
High school basketball has been a year-round sport for many years now.
AAU (Amateur Athletic Union) programs have been increasing, and the number of sports academies is growing in Wisconsin and across the country.
“If you don’t stay in touch with the kids, you’re losing out,” Tomashek said. “In our day and age, you have to have a complete love for the game as a coach. You must be a gym rat. It’s not an easy job, but it’s a rewarding job.”
To read the preview for the Ashwaubenon girls, CLICK HERE.
2021-22 Ashwaubenon boys’ basketball regular-season schedule
12/7 – D.C. Everest
12/10 – Notre Dame Academy
12/14 – @ Green Bay Southwest
12/17 – @ Bay Port
12/21 – Menasha
12/28 – @ Concordia University Tournament – TBD
1/4 – Manitowoc Lincoln
1/7 – Green Bay Preble
1/10 – West De Pere
1/11 – @ Sheboygan South
1/14 – De Pere
1/18 – @ Sheboygan North
1/21 – Pulaski
1/25 – @ Notre Dame Academy
1/28 – Bay Port
2/1 – @ Green Bay Southwest
2/4 – @ Green Bay Preble
2/5 – @ Prairie School Tournament – TBD
2/8 – @ Manitowoc Lincoln
2/11 – @ De Pere
2/15 – Sheboygan South
2/18 – Sheboygan North
2/24 – @ Pulaski
Sports editor’s note: All games begin at 7 p.m. unless otherwise noted.