Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Marquette vs. Sussex Hamilton: Finally, Someone's Playing Basketball

With yet another night totally devoid of televised basketball, I decided that it was time to head on out to see a random high school basketball game tonight. Three games came to mind. I decided against Pius at Hartland Arrowhead because with Pius’ proximity to my home, I don’t want to wear out the allure of seeing them too early in the year. Milwaukee Lutheran at Homestead looked to me to be easily the best game of the night, but I wasn’t in the mood to make the trek out to Mequon. So by process of elimination, I ended up at Marquette High to watch the Hilltoppers play host to Sussex Hamilton, a game that was intriguing for reasons that will become clear with my first point below:

1) The key word with Sussex Hamilton this year is "freshmen." I’m not sure if the rest of the school isn’t all that interested in playing basketball, or if the freshman class at Hamilton is just uniquely talented, but ninth graders seem to be overwhelming the whole program. The roster sheet listed four freshmen (two of whom who start) on the varsity squad, and seven freshmen on the ten-player JV roster. I’m not sure that I’ve ever seen anything like that at a school of Hamilton’s size.

2) Sussex Hamilton plays in the Greater Metro Conference, and its placement in that conference has always left me mildly perplexed. It’s confusing enough that a school that lies in an outlying part of Waukesha County could be in a conference that has the word "metro" in the name and consists primarily of schools in suburbs on the near west side of Milwaukee. However, the grouping of Sussex Hamilton with these schools is further confusing when one considers that there’s a Milwaukee Hamilton High School actually located in the city of Milwaukee. Sussex Hamilton holds its own in the Greater Metro, but I can’t help but think that I’d have to stop and think a lot less about what school people mean when they just say "Hamilton" if Sussex Hamilton was grouped with the Waukesha schools.

3) Credit to Sussex Hamilton for getting a moderate-sized student section to the game to cheer their team on. As already noted, Sussex Hamilton is somewhat of a geographic outlier in its conference, and getting as many students as they did to make the 20-minute drive to the game on a school night was a nice touch, even if the section gets a bit of a thumbs-down for leaving the game with about 40 seconds left on the game clock.

4) When I saw him on Friday night against Tosa East, I had vaguely recalled liking something about Marquette guard Mario Falsetti when I saw him last season. Turns out, it’s not just his flashy name. He was tossing around impressive, heady assists all night against Hamilton.

5) Hamilton freshman Kameron Cerroni will be a guy to watch for Hamilton in the coming years. While it’s impressive for any freshman to even make the varsity squad, let alone start, Cerroni takes things one step further. He’s the point guard for the team, and along with senior Alex Carsky, he seems to be one of the team’s go-to guys. If you were to watch the game without a roster, you’d never pick him out as one of the freshmen. He’s looks physically mature enough to blend in with his upperclassmen teammates, and though there’s a few things he needs to learn still, it’s not as if he doesn’t have some time to do some learning. Should be a fun guy to watch (along with the oodles of other Sussex Hamilton freshmen) for the next few years. And oh yeah, despite a sort of odd looking shot, he was drilling threes last night without much trouble.

6) Big scoring nights for Marquette’s Terry Hollins, who seemed to have an endless number of steals for breakaway layups in the second half, and David Grzesiak, Marquette’s big gun, whose teammates kept finding him as he streaked down the lane. Behind these two guys, Marquette extended their four point halftime lead to 25 at one point in their stellar second half.

7) Sussex Hamilton has a guy on its roster who’s 6'0" tall, and is listed as a Forward/Center. He gave them some nice minutes last night, did a nice job of banging with guys in the lane on defense, and looked like he was probably a starting guard for the football team or something. I guess you could make a case that these traits would make it appropriate to call him a center, but given that he’s 6'0", could we maybe just call him a forward so as not to make it look weird? I think the absolute smallest that you can go with the center designation in high school without it being a complete stretch is 6'3", and that’s still a mighty small center.

8) While the game was all but over with about four minutes to go, I stuck around until the end for two reasons. One, the small, makeshift student section that had formed for Marquette in the second half began exchanging chants with the Hamilton students, and you never know where that’s going to go (though it didn’t go anywhere all that interesting last night). Two, it’s always sort of fun to see grinning bench-warmers get into the game at the end (and indeed, it was fun).

All around, even though I was mainly just heading out to watch a game because there were no interesting college games on TV, it was a surprisingly fun night to watch a high school game. I got to see some future stars for Sussex Hamilton, and I got to see Marquette recover mightily from dropping its first game of the season to its rival. Though it wasn’t exactly a must-see game, I’m sure glad that I saw it, and I believe that most people in attendance had the same feeling.

Back tomorrow with my thoughts on the Wisconsin vs. UWM game. I’ve been derelict about watching UWM games of late, due to some scheduling conflicts, but I still believe that they’re going to be a much tougher team late in the season. Unfortunately, I don’t get the impression that they’re there yet, and this could be a rough night for the Panthers.


At 9:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, new to the site, so maybe I'm missing something, but your story doesn't tell us who won or what the final score was. Even though I know nothing about Mke-area basketball, your writing is interesting enough that I wanted to know the final score.

btw, I found this site at Big Ten Wonk -- apparently he's off this week so I was looking for other sites. Enjoyed your take on the Marquette/Wisconsin game.



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