The Little Chute boys’ basketball team fell short of its goal to win a WIAA Division 3 state championship.
But the exemplary play of their two stars Turner Botz and Kenneth Lowe didn’t go unnoticed among the state media as both Botz and Lowe were named to the Associated Press’ all-state team.
Botz, a 6-foot-6 senior forward, was a second-team pick, while Lowe, a 6-8 senior forward/center, was a third-team selection.
Brillion’s Eric Kittel, Kaukauna’s Riley Vander Wyst and Neenah’s Adam Pohlman were also honorable mention selections on the AP team.
“It’s a great honor,” Botz said in a phone interview on Tuesday. “It’s humbling that people think that highly (of us).”
Little Chute finished with a 25-2 record and lost to eventual state champion La Crosse Aquinas in the Division 3 state semifinals this past Friday. Aquinas star Bronson Koenig, a Wisconsin recruit, was named the AP’s player of the year, while its coach, Rick Schneider, was named coach of the year.
Botz averaged 16.2 points and 6.8 rebounds per game this season for Little Chute.
Lowe averaged 12 points per game and 5.8 rebounds. He also shot 61 percent from the floor and wowed plenty of fans around the area with his acrobatic dunks.
“It’s very special,” Lowe said of being named to the AP all-state team with Botz. “Just knowing that all the work we put in and all the stuff that we accomplished is being recognized individually, too.”
Botz said that he and Lowe are heading up to the UW-Green Bay campus later this week to talk with Phoenix head coach Brian Wardle.
“We’re going to go over some game film and what he wants us to work on,” Botz said. “Because players there are bigger, faster and more productive at the college level.”
Lowe said that he’s excited to take the next step in his basketball career.
“I’m already starting,” he said. “I’m going to take a few days off, but I’m already conditioning and working out to get ready for the next level.”
Little Chute coach Mickey Martins said that he was “fortunate to coach players of this caliber.”
“Anyone who is recognized as an all-state selection this year has earned quite an honor, in my opinion, especially with the talent-laden players around the state,” he said. “In all my years of coaching, I have never seen so much talent all divisions.
“A lot has been said and written about the basketball ability of these two young men. But what I’ll remember most is how they have matured and grew both on and off the court, how they embraced their fans and brought our town together, how they handled the pressure of being No. 1 and how they handled defeat at the Kohl Center with dignity and class.”
Koenig was selected over Whitefish Bay Dominican’s Duane Wilson and Germantown’s Luke Fischer.
They were joined on the first team by Onalaska senior Matt Thomas and Milwaukee Hamilton junior Kevon Looney.
“For four years, he’s had the ball in his hand,” Schneider said of Koenig, who signed with the University of Wisconsin last November. “He came in as a freshman. His first game, we played against St. Paul Johnson, who went 26- or 27-0 and won a state championship, and he had to bring the ball up the court against a pretty darn good basketball team. That was his first game, and I don’t know if he turned the ball over one time.
“That’s where he started. Where he’s at today, it’s remarkable. It’s not a surprise, but it’s remarkable.”
Koenig averaged 16.9 points and 4.4 assists per game during the regular season and shot 45.5 percent on three-pointers (40-for-88). In the state championship game, Koenig had 16 points and five assists, making two key free throws in the final 30 seconds to ice the victory and help Aquinas win its fourth WIAA state title.
“It’s meant a lot to me, winning two state championships,” Koenig said. “All the great players and teams, it means a lot to me.”
Schneider was selected as coach of the year over a crowded field that included Pulaski’s David Shaw,
— Ricardo Arguello: 920-993-1000, ext. 558, or firstname.lastname@example.org; On Twitter @PCRicardo. John Casper Jr. of the La Crosse Tribune contributed to this report.