Maymon gets state's top basketball honor
Jeronne Maymon promised his coach he’d bring home a title going into last year’s WIAA state tournament, but Madison Memorial High School came up two points short in overtime.
Maymon made a similar promise immediately after that loss—only this time, he told everybody. And a year later, he delivered.
“It’s definitely a good feeling to not be a liar and make what I said come true along with my teammates,” Maymon said.
After making good on his championship guarantee by leading Madison Memorial to the Division 1 state title on Saturday, Maymon picked up another honor Monday. A statewide panel of media members voted to name him the 2009 Associated Press state boys basketball Player of the Year.
Over the weekend, he also was named “Mr. Basketball” by the Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association.
It’s the second straight AP Player-of-the-Year award for Maymon, a senior who will move on to Marquette University next season. Also nominated for Player of the Year were Racine Horlick’s Jamil Wilson and Germantown’s Ben Averkamp.
Jim Blaine is the AP Coach of the Year. He led Benton to the Division 4 state title—the first-ever championship for the tiny southwestern Wisconsin school with an enrollment of 86.
Also nominated for Coach of the Year were Steve Collins of Memorial, Ryan Walz of Wisconsin Lutheran, Bob Letsch of Racine St. Catherine’s, Frank Schade of Oshkosh North and Nate Rykal of Bay Port.
Blaine still can’t believe there’s a state championship trophy sitting in his school and says he’ll never forget the impromptu parade that sprang up on the town’s main street and ended on a makeshift stage in front of the fire station Saturday night.
Blaine figures about 1,000 people turned out to congratulate them—not bad, considering the fact that the town’s population is just under 1,000.
“Depends on which side of town you drive in on,” Blaine joked, noting that signs welcoming visitors on each side of town display slightly different population figures.
And it’s no exaggeration to say the victory could change the course of Benton High School’s future. The Benton school district faces an April 7 referendum, asking voters for permission to exceed revenue limits set by the state, and reports in the Dubuque (Iowa) Telegraph Herald indicate a rejection could hasten a merger with a nearby district.
Blaine is somewhat reluctant to discuss the issue but knows his team’s success helped draw the community together and could have a carryover effect on the school bond referendum.
“I’m obviously for it, as a taxpayer and a lifelong Benton resident,” Blaine said. “If a championship can sway one or two votes, or get a few people to come out and vote, then good, I’m glad. But that’s not what we were playing for.”
Blaine has lived nearly all of his life in Benton, graduating from Benton High in 1982. Of the 29 kids in his graduating class, 10 came back to watch the Zephyrs play in the state tournament—many coming from out of state.
“I think that’s kind of what small towns are about,” Blaine said. “You move away, but a little piece of you always stays there.”
Benton’s small-town success story stands in marked contrast to the bright lights shining on Maymon, who made a bold prediction after coming up just short in last year’s title game: They were going to come back and win it all.
Maymon said his teammates had “no choice” but back up his bold statement.
“That’s what we do for each other,” he said.
Maymon averaged 17.7 points and 9.6 rebounds per game, and had 25 points and 12 rebounds in Memorial’s 56-41 victory over Racine Horlick in the championship game.
Maymon surely could have scored more this season. But after last season, he knew the path to a title involved shooting less, passing more and paying plenty of attention to his role as a leader. His message to younger teammates?
“You can still be goofy and be yourself,” Maymon said. “But you’ve got to be able to turn it on and off.”
Maymon will be on an even bigger stage next year—the Big East.
Marquette is losing three marquee players from this year’s team, which lost in the second round of the NCAA tournament on Sunday. Jerel McNeal, Dominic James and former Memorial star Wesley Matthews are seniors, meaning Maymon could have a chance to contribute early in his college career.
“They always battle back. That’s what I like about them,” Maymon said of the Golden Eagles. “It was a tough loss. It shouldn’t have gone that way. But next year will be a different story.”
Jeronne Maymon, Madison Memorial 6-7 Sr.
Jamil Wilson, Racine Horlick 6-7 Sr.
Vander Blue, Madison Memorial 6-4 Jr.
Antone Byrd, Milw. Washington 6-3 Sr.
Ben Averkamp, Germantown 6-8 Sr.
Flavien Davis, Wis. Lutheran 6-4 Jr.
Kameron Cerroni, Sussex Hamilton 6-1 Jr.
Nolan Free, Sheboygan North 6-1 Sr.
Jason Ziemer, Verona 6-4 Sr.
Danny McKeown, Milw. North 5-10 Sr.
Jimmy Whitehead, La Crosse Aquinas 6-1 Sr.
Steve Tecker Northwestern 6-5 Jr.
Jimmy Sherburne, Whitefish Bay 6-2 Sr.
Jake Thomas, Racine St. Catherine’s 6-3 Sr.
Marquis Mason, Madison East, 6-4 Jr.
Jake Hottenstine, Bay Port 6-3 Sr.
Josh Gasser, Port Washington 6-4 Jr.
Derek Semenas, Laconia 6-4 Sr.
Garrett Maloney, Milw. Marquette 6-5 Sr.
Tyler Brown, Eau Claire North 6-7 Sr.
Player of the Year—Jeronne Maymon, Madison Memorial.
Coach of the Year—Jim Blaine, Benton.
Eric Bryson, Elkhorn, sr.; Bryan Gregory, Edgerton, sr.; Mason Walters, Milton, sr.; Mitch Tordoff, Monroe, sr.; Derek Braucht, Madison Edgewood, sr.; Chris Siebert, Baraboo, sr.; Mike Boebel, Marshall, sr.; Evan Richard, Cuba City, jr.; Jade Royston, Wisconsin Dells, sr.; Alex Erickson, Darlington, soph.; Kyle Kelm, Randolph, jr.; Nate Bauer, Lakeside Lutheran, sr.; Quevyn Winters, Milwaukee Washington, soph.; Eric Williams, Wauwatosa East, sr.; Ed Reed, Milwaukee King. sr..
Elgin Cook, Milwaukee Hamilton, soph.; Bryan Stave, Whitnall, sr.; Reginald Hearn, Milwaukee Marshall, sr.; Chip Rank, Cedarburg, jr.; Des Smith, Watertown, sr.; T.J. Bray, Waukesha Memorial, jr.; Javar Lawson, Racine St. Catherine's, sr.; Antwon Oliver, Racine Horlick, sr.; Ben Mills, Hartland Arrowhead, jr.; Jerrell Harris, Whitefish Bay Dominican, sr.; Jordan Giordana, Kaukauna, sr.; Marcus Ruh, Bay Por, sr.; Andy Popp, Brillion, sr.; Branden Tachick, Bay Port, sr.; Trevor Hass, New London, sr.; Pat Alexander, Hillsboro, sr.; Trevor Jorgenson, La Crosse Logan, soph.; Jack Taylor, Black River Falls, sr..
Jordan Reetz, Fall Creek, jr.; Alex Culy, Rice Lake, sr.; Brennan Olson, Luck, sr.; Alex Erdmann, Wisconsin Rapids Assumption, sr.; Clayton Heuer, Wisconsin Rapids Lincoln, sr.; Josh Veldhuizen, Wausau East, sr.; Jordan Mach, Antigo, jr.; Austin Armga, Waupun, jr.; Tank Johnson, Oshkosh North, sr.; Taylor Koth, Kettle Moraine Lutheran, sr.;Tyler Tillema, Randolph, sr.; Nathan Zastrow, Manitowoc, sr.