Kudos to Mark Miller! The editor of the Wisconsin Basketball Yearbook and high school hoops junkie has stayed busy during the COVID-19 pandemic. He has delved into the state’s basketball annals to comprise a list of the greatest all-time players for a number of Wisconsin’s largest cities.
I can’t imagine the research and time spent evaluating and narrowing down the top five players all-time for cities such as Milwaukee and Madison. You’d have a hard enough time as it is separating Madison Memorial’s all-time greats, let alone having to also include Madison East, Madison West, Madison La Follette and Madison Edgewood to come up with a final starting five.
On Monday, Janesville made the list. Miller released his choices for the city’s all-time greatest boys basketball team.
And after looking at, it’s hard to find much fault with or question any of his choices. He’s spot on and obviously did his homework. My only critique is that the city’s all-time leading scorer was omitted from the first team. But that’s the cool thing about doing these kinds of lists: There are no right or wrong answers. It’s entirely up to the person in charge, which in this case is one of Wisconsin’s most respected and knowledgeable basketball pundits.
Miller introduces Janesville’s all-time best players by proclaiming that if it’s perimeter shooting you need, this group provides it. And he’s not lying. Miller’s first team consists of Janesville Craig graduates Robb Logterman (1990), Tim Paterick (1971), Ross Kingsley (1980) and Ben Berlowski (1992), and the leader of Janesville Parker’s 1971 state championship team, Bob Luchsinger.
With the 3-point line, that team might have averaged 90 points a game playing together.
Kingsley is the second-best shooter I’ve seen outside of La Follette’s Ricky Olson (1982) and would’ve easily averaged 30 points a game had the 3-point shot existed when he played. He set a then-Big Eight record for points in his senior season with 409 in 14 conference games and was the unanimous pick as the conference’s player of the year.
Paterick was another sharpshooter that missed out on the 3-point line. He averaged 25 points a game his senior year in being named the Big Eight’s player of the year, and he joined Luchsinger in playing at the University of Wisconsin despite offers from Marquette, Kentucky and Michigan.
Logterman was simply a scoring machine. Playing two years at Craig, the 6-foot-3 combo guard averaged 28.1 points his senior year and was the Big Eight’s player of the year. He went on to a successful career at Marquette, where he still ranks fifth all-time with 244 made 3-pointers.
It’s impossible to talk Janesville sports lore and not hear the name Bob Luchsinger. He was the catalyst behind one of the greatest stories in Janesville sports history—Parker’s improbable 1971 state championship. His 25 points in the state championship game helped the Vikings shock heavily-favored Milwaukee King 78-69. Luchsinger lettered three seasons at Wisconsin and once found himself on the cover of Sports Illustrated.
Scoring was never a problem for Berlowski, either. The 6-foot-3 inside/out threat went off in the Cougars’ postseason run to the WIAA state tournament in 1992. He scored 29 or more points in four straight tournament games and then added 29 in a state quarterfinal loss to top-ranked Milwaukee King. Berlowski went on to play at UW-Green Bay for Dick Bennett and is the program’s fourth all-time leader in 3-point baskets made with 214. He also played in three NCAA tournaments.
That concludes Miller’s first team, and what a dazzling display of basketball talent it encompasses.
My only complaint is that I would’ve had Chris Weber on the first team, as well. The rugged 6-7 power forward is considered by many local enthusiasts as the greatest player in city history. You’ll get no argument here.
Weber did it all for the Cougars and is one of the few players in Big Eight history to win back-to-back player of the year honors. He is the city’s all-time leading scorer with 1,452 points, and that was done before freshmen were eligible to play. He helped lead coach Stan DuFrane’s teams to back-to-back state tournament berths.
Miller’s second team is certainly no slouch. Led by Weber, the team also includes Parker’s John Bobzien (1972), Janesville High’s Pat Schloemer (1961) and Craig’s Jim Jackson (1991) and Aubrey Lewis-Byers (1999). I covered both Jackson and Lewis-Byers and saw first-hand how terrific of players they were, while Bobzien was first-team all-state and led coach Bob Morgan’s Vikings to back-to-back state tournament berths, including ‘71 state championship.
Schloemer was before my time, but with the numbers he put up, it’s not surprising that Miller has him on the second team. He was the city’s first basketball player to earn all-state first-team honors.
You could also do a lot of damage with those players Miller named honorable mention. Among those on the list are Craig’s Eric Liebenstein (84), George Lynch (1978) and Phil Shelp (1972) and Parker’s Rob Kukla (1984).
Two that didn’t make the list but probably should have are Craig’s Ben Nickols and Parker’s Larry Knutson (1982). Nickols is the only player in program history to start every game on varsity all four years, while Knutson led the Vikings to their only Big Eight Conference title in 1982.