Just about every high school basketball team has a go-to player.
Someone who when the game is on the line is the person, the coach and their teammates look to come up with a key rebound or a clutch basket.
For the Almond-Bancroft boys that person this season is junior Ethan Yonke, a versatile 6-foot-3 post player who is in his third year of varsity competition.
Over the course of the current season, Yonke, who averages 19.8 points and 12.3 rebounds, has consistently demonstrated the ability to punish the opposition with power moves in the paint or show off a productive mid-range game.
He also brings a number of intangibles to the court that have been instrumental in another successful season for the Eagles, who are 13-5 overall and 10-4 Central Wisconsin Conference 10.
“In all my years of coaching, I have not had a kid who competes as hard as Ethan,” A-B coach Curt Lamb said. “He loves the game of basketball and just loves to compete.”
Yonke took some time out from his practice regimen to sit down and talk about his offseason and how things have been going this season:
Q: Who is your role model/hero?
A: My role model is my dad. I want to follow in his footsteps because he works on a farm and works very hard. It’s hard work and it’s not easy to wake up early every day and do it again every day for his family.
Q: You were called up to the varsity from the junior varsity early in your freshman season, what was the toughest adjustment for you to playing varsity?
A: From what I can remember, I was just so nervous because varsity basketball is much more up-tempo and fast. It probably took me a couple weeks to get over the nerves and just go out and play on varsity.
Q: You’re averaging a double-double this season, so are you surprised you’re having this type of season or were you expecting to be this productive?
A: I wanted to just keep working hard on my game because last year I was close to averaging a double-double and I wanted to keep that up or do even better. It’s nice to score, but I like seeing the rebounding stats because I just like going after the basketball.
Q: A lot of basketball players compete on the AAU circuit during the offseason, has that been the case for you and how have you developed your game?
A: I did that last summer playing for the Wisconsin Blizzard and I think it helped me to go against bigger guys in the post and made me more physical. Playing that competition gave me more of a mid-range game and I think it boosts your confidence playing AAU and having pretty decent success. It’s also nice seeing other competition out there and gives you more confidence with the team you play with during the (high school) season.
Q: Other than basketball, if you could play a professional sport, what sport would you pick and why?
A: I guess I would say football because it’s my second favorite sport and you get to go out and hit people. Basketball is by far my favorite sport. Ever since I could remember I just loved basketball. To be honest, I don’t think I was that good at it (basketball) when I was little until I realized that if you work at it, you can be pretty good.
— By Scott A. Williams
Stevens Point Journal Media