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Dekker earns Player of the Year honor

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Associated Press
March 21, 2012

Sam Dekker’s game-winning shot led Sheboygan Lutheran to the WIAA Division 5 championship on Saturday, capping a stellar high school career and giving him a big send-off as he prepares for the high expectations he’ll face playing for Bo Ryan at Wisconsin.


It also helped make Dekker the 2012 Associated Press Wisconsin state boys’ basketball player of the year, as voted on by a statewide panel of media members.


Dekker edged out Germantown’s Zak Showalter, who will join Dekker at Wisconsin. East Troy senior and Army recruit, Tanner Plomb was given honorable mention recognition.


But the Showalter family didn’t get shut out from this year’s AP awards. Germantown coach Steve Showalter was named AP Wisconsin boys’ basketball coach of the year after Germantown beat Milwaukee King to win the Division 1 title.


Showalter says coaching his two sons, Zak and younger brother Jake, made the championship even more memorable.


Not long after he hit one of the most memorable shots in recent Wisconsin high school basketball history, Sam Dekker said he had more than 300 text messages awaiting a reply.


Then came the ultimate modern-day measurement of instantaneous fame: Twitter.


“People told me I was trending,” Dekker said.


Dekker’s game-winning three-pointer with six seconds left led Sheboygan Lutheran to the WIAA Division 5 championship on Saturday, capping a stellar high school career and giving him a big send-off as he prepares for the high expectations he’ll face playing for Bo Ryan at Wisconsin next season. It also helped make Dekker the 2012 Associated Press Wisconsin state boys’ basketball player of the year, as voted on by a statewide panel of media members.


“I know I’ve hit big shots before,” Dekker said. “I’m confident in my shot no matter what the situation. But I’ve never hit something on that level.”


Dekker edged out Germantown’s Zak Showalter, who will join Dekker at Wisconsin next season.


But the Showalter family didn’t get shut out from this year’s AP awards. Germantown coach Steve Showalter was named AP Wisconsin boys’ basketball coach of the year after Germantown beat Milwaukee King to win the Division 1 title.


Racine Lutheran’s Jeff Christensen, Onalaska’s Craig Kowal, Brillion’s Pete Kittel and Sheboygan Lutheran’s Todd Dekker _ Sam’s father _ also were nominated for coach of the year.


Showalter said coaching his two sons, Zak and younger brother Jake, made the championship even more memorable.


“It was very special,” Showalter said. “This was the one year out of their lives that they got to play together on the varsity.”


And it was a high point for Showalter, who took the Germantown coaching job somewhat reluctantly 12 years ago.


Showalter played for Ryan at UW-Platteville, then played overseas for a few years before returning to Wisconsin and becoming a police officer in Germantown. He eventually was asked to help out with the junior varsity in his spare time _ and despite his relative lack of experience coaching, it didn’t take long for the school to ask him to coach the varsity.


“I was very apprehensive at first,” Showalter said. “I told them I would take the job on a short-term basis, until they found a ‘real’ coach.”


He remains a police officer in Germantown, and says coaching the team helps keep him balanced.


“I don’t always deal with the best people in society,” Showalter said. “But at the end of the day, I get to be around good kids.”


Including his sons. Showalter acknowledged it took time for him to learn how to coach Zak, and he initially might have been too hard on him to prove a point to other players and their parents.


“I was ruining my relationship with my own kid,” Showalter said.


He eventually backed off a bit, and Zak blossomed into the player he is today _ a player whose statistics don’t necessarily measure his worth.


“We had talent at every position, and we were so deep, so Zak’s numbers probably weren’t indicative of what he meant to our team,” Showalter said.


Now Showalter is ready for Zak to prove himself at the next level. He’ll go to Wisconsin as a preferred walk-on, with the chance to earn a scholarship playing under Ryan.


“I played for coach, and I know what it takes to play for him _ and how hard it’s going to be,” Showalter said.


He’ll join Dekker, who faces higher expectations as a high-profile recruit.


“I always set high standards for myself, so I’m used to it,” Dekker said.


Wisconsin fans already were excited about Dekker’s arrival in Madison, even before video of Dekker’s big shot went viral and even showed up on a “best of the best” poll on ESPN’s website this week.


“I’m used to getting attention, but not at this level,” Dekker said. “It’s kind of cool. I’m still on a high. All my teammates are still so excited.”


For now, Dekker is savoring the moment with his teammates and the rest of the community.


“It’s something that we should all cherish,” Dekker said.


But as Dekker looks to add muscle and increase his lateral quickness to defend guards in the Big Ten, he acknowledges that his thoughts sometimes turn to what things might be like for him at Wisconsin.


Especially as he watches this year’s Badgers make it to the second weekend of the NCAA tournament.


“I have thought about that a couple of times,” Dekker said. “Talking to people, they’re like, ‘That’ll be you.’”



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