Germantown - In trying to understand the rise that led the Germantown boys basketball team from the nadir of the North Shore Conference to its current place as WIAA champion, it's best to touch base with a couple of educated voices.
To go from the bottom of the North Shore Conference (try a 122-75 defeat at the hands of Homestead in 1993) to being discussed as one of the greatest teams of all time needs a little analysis.
Nicolet girls basketball coach Corey Wolf in 2010-11 was in the same position as Warhawks coach Steve Showalter was this year. She had a motivated, highly talented team that had come up just short the year before and found that nothing less than a state championship would sate its desires.
As it turns out, the Knights overcame some injuries and setbacks and did achieve everything on their plate, and also like Germantown against King, had to rally in their state title game against Middleton in order to make their dreams come true.
Ben Averkamp was a 2009 graduate of Germantown, and was a two-time NOW Player of the Year like current Warhawks star Zak Showalter. He was also the school's all-time leading scorer until Showalter obliterated that mark earlier this season. He led the Warhawks to their first two WIAA state tournament berths and his four-year career marked the rise of Germantown from the ranks of merely a good team to that of a great one.
He just finished up his junior season as center for the Loyola University men's basketball team. He is currently a pre-med student and his plans of becoming an orthopedic surgeon are still firmly in place. Averkamp's brother, Jon, held a proud place as a reserve on this year's title team.
Their thoughts follow.
'We weren't a lot different,' she said of Germantown, 'and you don't worry about what other people are saying about your team, because you're so focused on your goal, it just doesn't matter what they say. The end goal and getting better every day is what you're locked in on.
'Everything you do, from scouting teams to all the little things in between, you do for your goal. You don't want any regrets. You want people to be proud of what you did.
'And you have to do that, because everyone wants to get you. You see everyone's best game. And that kind of thinking is what made Germantown great this year, because they did get everyone's best shot and they rose to the occasion every time.
'I went up to watch that King game (the title game). What I saw was that they were so focused in warm-ups, so focused on what they needed to do in order to win the state title.
'And now they've established that culture. They have a tradition. They now want to play basketball at that school and play for coach (Steve Showalter). They want to be the next Zak (all-state guard Showalter), Josh (point guard Mongan) or Luke (center Fischer).
'The fourth- and fifth-graders now relate to all that. They've seen a lot of this. They won't forget watching them win a state title this year and they'll want one of their own.'
'I could start see things really coming when Zak became the team's 'go-to' player his sophomore year (the year after Averkamp graduated). He and coach want to win so much that sometimes they butted heads a little, but not in a bad way.
'… I was just so impressed with the chemistry this year and that comes from coach (Steve Showalter). You know you can't stay with the status quo with him. He's demanding and that's been a very good thing for Germantown basketball. You look at it now … and not many teams have had as much success as he has had the last several years.
'He just manages to get the most out of every guy. … It's amazing where this has all gone. Coach has put in countless hours and just look how good the youth programs have become. He's getting like two good players and one role player out of every class now. It's amazing. Just like the guys in my class, myself, Mike Laubenheimer and Evan Gillespie. You can just go down the line since then.
'And look at this group. You had Zak, Josh (point guard Mongan) and Dan (center Studer). Zack Kumbier (the third guard) was no slouch either. That's just the quality he's getting right now.
'… I remember going to the Madison to see the Oshkosh West-Madison Memorial title game in 2006, my freshmen year and thinking how far away that all seems.
'And I remember meeting coach that year and he could be pretty intimidating. I hadn't gotten that big yet (Averkamp is currently 6-9), but I just always had a tremendous amount of respect for him. I just wouldn't be as far as I would be now without him.
'Again, it's getting the best out of everyone that you have and that is such a highly underrated skill in the (coaching) profession. I mean, he took a football school without a lot of basketball players and he got people like (former teammates) Andy and Zach (Neumann) and Nick (Doedens) and turned them into real basketball players.
'Am I little envious? Sure. But I have a 1,000-times more pride than envy. What a great achievement.'
The Steve Showalter File
Current record at Germantown: 205-78 (12th year, .724 winning percentage)
North Shore Conference titles: five (2007, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012)
NOW All-Suburban selections: Andrew Harmon 2000 and 2001; Bobby Komorowski 2007; Ben Averkamp 2008 POY and 2009 POY; Zak Showalter 2010, Zak Showalter 2011 POY, Zak Showalter 2012 POY, and Luke Fischer 2012
NOW Coach of the Year honors: 2007 and 2012
Current North Shore Coach of the Year
2012 AP State Coach of the Year