Peshtigo duo are top dogs
Wednesday, March 12, 2014 7:00 PM
PESHTIGO - Athletes like Zack Neumann and Jordan Berth don't come around very often, especially in a small town like Peshtigo.
For four years, both Neumann and Berth displayed consistency and immense ability and capped off their respective senior seasons by earning Co-Player of the Year awards in the M&O Conference.
"Both players were very deserving of this honor," Peshtigo coach Ryan Spaulding said. "Both Zack and Jordan accomplished so much over their careers."
There were many things that stood out over Berth and Neumann's careers and season.
One is they never lost a conference game over their four years. Another is both broke 1,000 career points in the same game.
Neumann ends his career as Peshtigo's all-time leading scorer at 1,085 and averaged 17.9 points per game his senior year. He also knocked down 86 3-pointers this year, tying Collin Terry for the school record.
What separated this season for Neumann from the past three years was his ability to put the ball on the floor and score in many different ways.
"Zack really took his game to a new level this year," said Spaulding. "He hunted scoring opportunities and took advantage of any chance he had."
Berth finished second on the school's all-time list at 1,068 points and had a 17.5 ppg average this year.
Over his career and especially this season, Berth was the most-feared presence inside in the conference. He could also step out and drain a jumper and often times did some extensive ball-handling when the Bulldogs needed it.
"Jordan is a very smart basketball player that can do a little bit of everything," Spaulding said. "He used his body well and just improved every season he played."
The Bulldogs, who finished a perfect 16-0 in conference play once again, also boasted the top defensive player in the league in Gunner Kinney.
Kinney, who could drain the deep ball on offense, was often tasked with guarding the opposing team's best player and excelled at it.
"Gunner embraced his role as a defensive stopper," Spaulding said. "He took pride in his defense and it showed."
The Wausaukee Rangers finished second in the conference at 14-2 and also went the furthest out of all the M&O squads by making it to their Division 5 Sectional semifinal game.
That Ranger squad was guided by talented juniors Aaron Schlies and Zach Orlando, both earning first-team laurels.
Schlies, who averaged just under 15 points a game in the M&O, played both the facilitator and scorer for the Rangers, depending on the team need.
"Aaron did it all for us and I don't think he has a ceiling," Wausaukee coach John Ranallo said. "We finished the season strong and he was a big reason for that."
Orlando was right behind Schlies in scoring and was one of, if not the best, pure-shooters in the league. His game also expanded off the dribble and Ranallo is excited for both Orlando and Schlies to return next year.
"I'm excited for our future," Ranallo said. "Both Zach and Aaron put the time in over the summer and it paid off. I'm expecting them to only get better."
Ben Fischer has accomplished just about everything a three-sport athlete can do and he added another first-team selection to his resume.
Fischer, a four-year varsity starter for Crivitz, finished with a career scoring total of 1,013 points and was right around 15 points per game this year.
On a young Wolverine team with just two seniors, Fischer embraced his leadership role. He often took over the ball-handling duties and was the safety net anytime the opposing team applied pressure on the Wolverines.
"I would have to say Ben was as coachable of a player as anyone could be. Just a great kid," Crivitz coach Jeff Baumann said. "I can't say enough about his character."
Fischer showed signs of being the best basketball player in Crivitz history, but his best sport was football, giving the M&O a stellar athlete for four years.
"Ben's a 4.0 student who put in a lot of time working to get better at everything he did," Baumann said. "He has all the intangibles and I'm pleased to have coached him for four years."
Rounding out the first-teamers was another four-year varsity player in Kiefer Powers of St. Thomas Aquinas Academy.
Powers, who surpassed the 1,000 point mark earlier in the year, averaged just over 11 points per game in the M&O this year.
The ability to do more than just score separated Powers this season from his previous years.
"We asked Kiefer to do a lot of different things for us this year," STAA coach Ric Powers said. "He was asked to score less and he rebounds, steals and assists went up. He did anything to help the team win."
The Cavaliers finished tied for third at 11-5 with Crivitz this year, finishing with the most regular season wins in school history. Kiefer Powers was a big reason for that.
"Kiefer was a class act for four years for us," coach Powers said. "He constantly drew the best opposing defender and that says something."
M&O BOYS ALL-CONFERENCE
*Jordan Berth 6'3" Senior Peshtigo
Ben Fischer 6'2" Senior Crivitz
*Zack Neumann 6'2" Senior Peshtigo
Zach Orlando 6'0" Junior Wausaukee
Kiefer Powers 6'0" Senior STAA
Aaron Schlies 6'3" Junior Wausaukee
Jameson Bardowski 5'11" Senior STAA
Hunter Borchert 6'0" Freshman Lena
Dillon Kempen 5'10" Senior Suring
Colton Lange 6'4" Junior Crivitz
A.J. Woller 6'1" Senior Peshtigo
Casey Boyle 6'2" Senior STAA
Beau DeLaet 5'9" Senior Wausaukee
Tyler Fisher 6'4" Senior Suring
John Horst 5'11" Senior Suring
Jake Kasten 6'2" Senior Gillett
+Gunner Kinney 5'10" Senior Peshtigo
Jeremy Kralovetz 6'3" Sophomore Crivitz
Blake Margis 6'2" Sophomore Coleman
Dylan Roberts 6'0" Senior Gillett
Joey Swanson 5'10" Senior Niagara
Zach Walker 6'1" Senior Niagara
*Jordan Berth and *Zack Neuman Co-Player of the Year
+Gunner Kinney Defensive Player of the Year