Sheboygan Lutheran’s boys basketball team has looked every bit like the big-time contender it thought it could be this year.
The Crusaders, who won a Division 5 state title two years ago and followed it up last season with a regional crown, have gotten off to a hot 4-0 start. They’ve beaten perennially strong Oostburg — an essential credential for a team looking for a Central Lakeshore Conference title — and have posted each win this year by a comfortable margin.
Still, Lutheran’s as-yet toughest challenge of the season could come this weekend, when the Crusaders face off against Green Bay NEW Lutheran — the same team that knocked Sheboygan out of the sectional semifinals in last year’s playoffs before settling for a second-place finish in the state tournament.
Saturday’s clash against the Blazers has the potential to be a watershed moment in the Crusaders’ promising season. A win against the currently top-ranked Division 5 team in the state (that’s according to the latest WisSports.net coaches poll) would put arguably the biggest feather in Lutheran’s hat since the Sam Dekker-led team hoisted a gold trophy in Madison two winters ago.
That won’t be a feat easily accomplished, though. There’s a reason, after all, the Blazers are looking at most other Wisconsin basketball teams in their rearview mirror. The team’s high-powered offense is averaging more than 60 points per game. Nathan Toenjes and Dakota Zinser have proved the Blazers’ most consistently potent offensive weapons, though the team has a number of players who have become capable point-scorers.
The Crusaders are ranked fourth among Division 5 teams in the latest WisSports.net poll, and have made winning four straight games appear about as easy as lacing up their sneakers. Second-year coach Nick Verhagen’s team has averaged 67 points per game and notched double-digit margins of victory in each of its contests so far.
Which means the ingredients are all there to make Saturday’s one of Sheboygan Lutheran’s biggest games of the year.