Valders, Roncalli boys ready for 3rd meeting

Valders, Roncalli boys ready for 3rd meeting

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Valders, Roncalli boys ready for 3rd meeting

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When the WIAA released the seedings for the boys basketball tournament in late February, Roncalli and Valders appeared to be on a collision course as the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds, respectively, in the Division 3 regional.

Both sides took care of business, winning their four games by a combined 56-point margin, so the Jets (23-1) and Vikings (21-3) will square off for the third time this season at 7 p.m. tonight in De Pere for a place in the D3 sectional final.

The first two games were won by Roncalli, a 53-43 victory on Dec. 12 in Valders and a 54-46 win at home on Jan. 30.

Though the stakes are higher for both sides, neither coach feels playing yet again has any significance outside of allowing them to game plan a little easier.

“Both teams are very familiar with each other,” said Vikings coach Trevor Schwoerer. “The first two games were both even so we don’t expect any surprises. It doesn’t matter who you play at this point in the season.”

Jets coach Joe Rux echoed his counterparts sentiments.

“A lot of teams might not like (meeting the same team three times) but I don’t think that’s the case with us,” Rux said. “It’s actually a bit of a benefit, it helps cut down on our preparation time.”

If anything, the latest meeting just helps build up the rivalry between the two Olympian Conference foes.

Rux said the communities get an added incentive by playing a familiar opponent while Schwoerer said both sides have great fan bases and expects a lively crowd despite it being a neutral court.

When it comes to the actual games themselves, Roncalli has had the slight advantage. Valders has only been held to less than 50 points three times all season, twice against the Jets and once in a 40-37 victory over Wrightstown.

Rux feels that defensive prowess is one of his team’s greatest attributes, with a perfect example being the first meeting between the squads back in December.

“We started the game 0-23 from 3-point in the first half but held them to just 16 points and trailed by only four entering half,” Rux said of the early-season win. “Even though we struggled offensively our defense held its own.”

Another calling card for Roncalli all season has been their ability to come out strong to start the second half, as evidenced by the Jets outscoring the Vikings 39-18 in the third quarter this season.

This isn’t lost on Schwoerer.

“We’ve been stressing all season about coming out strong in the first four minutes of each half to set the tone,” Schwoerer said. “Roncalli has kicked our butts coming out of half though, we need to be more focused.”

In Schwoerer’s favor will be the return of senior standout Zack Goedeke, who missed the second matchup with Roncalli and a portion of the season’s back end with an ankle injury. Goedeke has played in the last four contests for Valders and is, according to his coach, good as he’s going to get.

“Zack gives us a chance for baskets much closer to the rim with his post touches and has a knack for getting offensive rebounds,” Schwoerer said of Goedeke’s added presence. “Then, on the defensive side, he changes the game enormously. Roncalli controlled us inside in that second game so Zack is really going to help us in the interior.”

The loss of Goedeke did have a positive impact for the Vikings though.

“Zack’s absence made our bench tougher, I’m not afraid to plug guys in who have played some pressure moments,” Schwoerer said.

Rux was quick to give credit to Valders in how they handled Goedeke’s extended absence.

“They played well in both situations, they didn’t fall apart without him,” Rux said.

While Goedeke, who is tied for sixth in the OC at 14 points per game, gives the Vikings a consistent threat inside, the guard combo of Thomas Schwoerer (13.6 ppg) and Forrest Fenlon (12.7 ppg) forces teams to not focus too much attention on the 6-7 senior.

Roncalli has also dealt with their fair share of injuries, including the loss of shooting guard Sam Scheer before the season which forced Josh Erickson to move from center to the two-guard spot.

Despite not having played on the perimeter much before this season, Erickson has flourished in the role, averaging 17 ppg which is second in the OC.

“Josh is a fantastic player,” Schwoerer said. “He’s a really tough matchup so we need to try and keep him contained.”

When all is said and done the only certainty is Manitowoc County will have a representative in Menasha on Saturday with a trip to State on the line. It just depends on whether Roncalli will have won their 21st consecutive game or if Valders can test the old adage about the third time truly being the charm.

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