Guards ruled the day when it came to area high school boys basketball this season.
The Gazette’s all-area roster may not set any records for overall height, but this group would have no problem moving the ball or scoring from the perimeter, and they aren’t afraid to drive the lane, either.
All told, the six players on this year’s all-area team were difference makers for their programs, whether it was leading their teams to deep tournament runs, springing upsets or hitting clutch shots.
Joining player of the year Jordan Majeed, a Beloit Turner junior, on The Gazette’s all-area team are: Elkhorn senior Luke Umnus; Janesville Craig seniors Aaron Leverson and Jack Huml; Janesville Parker senior Tremar Curry; and Evansville junior Sulley Geske.
Luke Umnus was a driving force behind Elkhorn’s run to the WIAA Division 2 state tournament.
He averaged 12.4 points and 4.8 assists per game for the Elks on the way to being named first-team all-Southern Lakes Conference.
Umnus, who will attend Division III Wisconsin Lutheran College with his twin brother, Vince, made the game-winning shot in the final seconds of a 60-58 victory over Mount Horeb in a sectional final. The Elks advanced to state for the first time since 1987.
“He has a great feel for the game. He knows when to get his teammates involved and when he needs to step up and make a play or hit a shot,” Elkhorn coach Josh Skatrud said. “He can completely impact the game without scoring, but then when we need a bucket, he gets us one.”
Determining postseason accolades for the Elks came down to splitting hairs. They had four players average double figures scoring—including both Umnus brothers, first-team all-conference pick Nick Brown and Chance Larson—but none averaged more than 12.4.
In a sense, the team’s unselfish play that led to the state tournament might have led to some players being overlooked.
“It’s fun to coach a group where you’ve got five guys who are legit all-conference guys,” Skatrud said. ‘That’s not something that happens very often.”
Janesville Craig asked Aaron Leverson to step up and play a bigger role this season, and the senior did not disappoint.
Leverson averaged 14.9 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists on the way to being named second-team all-Big Eight Conference.
“We had a tough time taking him out of games, because he handled the ball so much,” Craig coach Ben McCormick said. “I think he had the second-most rebounds on our team despite playing at a guard position. He shot it well from 3, and his ability to get to the basket showed. And he also got better defensively, too.
“We asked him to do a lot, and he did it.”
Leverson was Craig’s most consistent scorer. He had a season-high 29 at Madison West on Feb. 15, one of four times he eclipsed 20 points. Leverson was held to nine or fewer points just three times.
“It was clear that Leverson was their leader,” Parker head coach Matt Bredesen said. “Everything they did went through him, whether he was shooting, setting teammates up, attacking the rim. He made everything go.”
When Craig needed a big shot, it often turned to another senior guard, Jack Huml.
Huml averaged 15.2 points per game and made 71 3-pointers in earning third-team all-Big Eight honors.
He opened the season by scoring 30 points in a victory at Madison Edgewood and had 29 each against Madison West and in a 73-70 victory over state-ranked Madison La Follette in early February.
“He has always drawn the best defender from the opponent and had to work to get his shots, and yet I think he set a record for us for 3-pointers on the season,” McCormick said. “The big thing about him is he’s a great example of someone who puts the time in and works on his game. I think he averaged 2 points a game last year and then over 15 this year. That’s a testament to his work ethic.”
Huml also buried a buzzer-beating 3-pointer in an 80-78 win over Oconomowoc on Dec. 21. And he scored 20 in a regional semifinal upset at Middleton.
“He had a lot of different games where he made a bunch of shots,” Bredesen said. “A really good shooter. You had to make sure to have someone on him to contest shots and also hedge screens hard so that he couldn’t get good looks.”
Bredesen had a dynamic back-court player that helped lay the foundation for the Parker program in Bredesen’s first year.
Tremar Curry led the Vikings in points (14.3), rebounds (6.0) and assists (4.7) per game on the way to being named third-team all-Big Eight.
“He led us in every major statistical category,” Bredesen said. “By the end of the year, he was a really good lead-by-example kid that bought into everything we wanted to do. I couldn’t have asked for anything more from Tremar.
“He always guarded one of the opponents’ best kids. And he was a big reason we were more competitive down the stretch.”
Curry scored a season-high 23 points twice, including once to close out the regular season with a victory over Beloit Memorial. Twice he finished with 10 assists in a game, including a victory over Lake Geneva Badger.
“He shot it better from 3, but his strength is getting to the basket,” McCormick said. “It’s hard to keep him in front of you. He was unselfish and made his team better. They ran a lot of things to him and through him, and you had to focus on him.”
Evansville junior Sulley Geske commanded plenty of attention from opponents, as well.
He averaged 17.7 points per game for a Blue Devils team that tied with Turner for second place in the Rock Valley Conference. Geske was named first-team all-conference.
“He had a tremendous year. He was our go-to scorer and is just so athletic and dynamic,” Evansville co-head coach Kendall Buttchen said. “He made some tremendous plays for us that turned the tide and swung momentum our way.
“His defense would lead into his offense. He had some dunks that were big for us and would get the crowd into it with his athleticism.”
Geske, also a Gazette all-area pick as a wide receiver on the football field, will enter his senior season 92 points shy of 1,000 for his career.
He had nine 20-point games as a junior, including scoring 28 at Whitewater on Dec. 21. He was held to single digits scoring just twice and never scored less than 11 after Dec. 15.
“You just can’t take a possession off or let him get started, because he can string a bunch of possessions in a row,” Turner coach Ken Watkins said. “He’s another guy who isn’t afraid of the big shot or the big moment. He’s been a tough cover since he was a freshman.”