The Roncalli boys basketball team has taken on all comers this season and through 13 games their only blemish has come at the hands of Division 1 opponent Milwaukee Vincent.
The Jets (12-1) remain a perfect 9-0 atop the Olympian Conference with victories over Wrightstown (9-5, 7-3) and Valders (13-1, 9-1). Roncalli though will be tested next week when they host Brillion (10-3, 8-2) on Monday and the Vikings on Jan. 30.
While there’s been a few close calls over the course of the season, Roncalli has notched 10 double-digit victories including six by 20 or more.
Leading the way for the Jets is the tandem of Josh Erickson and Nick Stelzer who are third and seventh in the OC in scoring at 15.3 and 14.6 points per game, respectively. Although each is capable of taking over the game as evidenced by Erickson’s season high of 30 points and Stelzer’s high of 24, neither one is looked upon to carry the load.
Four different Jets have led the team in scoring at least twice this season in Erickson, Stelzer and teammates Shane Johnson and Logan Theisen meaning opponents can’t hope to key on one player to stop Roncalli’s potent offense.
“We can be a little bit hit or miss,” said Jets coach Joe Rux of his teams balanced offense. “We have enough talent that we’ll get the scoring from someone. That also makes it more difficult to prepare for us on defense.”
The Jets’ football team followed a similar formula all the way to the WIAA State Football Division 4 semifinal and with several players having belonged to both squads they have the knowledge of what it takes to make a deep run in the postseason.
While not putting too much stock in success in football translating to basketball, Rux doesn’t completely dismiss the notion either.
“Having success in other aspects of life doesn’t hurt,” Rux added. “Anytime our kids have success outside of basketball whether it’s another sport, in the classroom or elsewhere it can only make them better both on and off the court.”
Also like the football team, the Roncalli basketball team uses a swarming defense which aides in creating turnovers, including 13 steals on Tuesday against Manitowoc Lutheran (6-8, 4-6). Rux credits the defensive prowess of his guards who are experienced enough to know how to be utilize an aggressive style without becoming reckless.
“Experience is a big reason why we can apply pressure,” Rux said. “Our guards love to get after the ball handler which can end up hurting is in transition but puts a real strain on the opposition more than it hurts us.”
Rux says his team will only keep improving with the return of several injured players including a lock-down defender in guard Alex Deets who missed the first two months of the season due to an injury picked up at the end of the football season.
“Getting Deets back is big because we’ve been missing a few defensive-minded guards from our rotation,” Rux said of Deets. “His ability to apply defensive pressure only adds to our team and it’s great to have back.”
Despite such a strong start to the season an OC title is by no means locked up with two games against Brillion and rematches with both Valders and Wrightstown looming. Rux though is confident his team has enough experience and talent to compete for the title.
1. Roncalli (12-1, 9-0)
2. Valders (13-1, 9-1)
3. Two Rivers (8-6 4-3)
4. Reedsville (7-5, 4-5)
1. Reedsville (10-1, 8-1)
2. Two Rivers (10-1, 6-1)
3. Kiel (6-5, 5-2)
4. Manitowoc Lutheran (7-5, 6-3)