After reaching the WIAA state tournament semifinals last year in their first appearances, the Barneveld boys and Madison Edgewood girls basketball teams were determined to improve on those finishes this season.
Each team did, and in a big way. Barneveld, overcoming a turbulent week, claimed the gold ball at the Division 5 state boys basketball tournament at the Kohl Center, while Madison Edgewood earned the Division 3 state championship at the Resch Center in Ashwaubenon.
They were guided by longtime coaches at their respective schools: Barneveld’s Jim Myers, in his second season as the boys coach after leading the Golden Eagles’ girls teams to a state-record 699 victories and six state titles, and Edgewood’s Lora Staveness, who is approaching 400 victories in 24 seasons.
For their efforts, Myers was named the Wisconsin State Journal/WisconsinPrepZone.com All-Area Boys Basketball Coach of the Year and Staveness was named the Wisconsin State Journal/WisconsinPrepZone.com All-Area Girls Basketball Coach of the Year.
[Memorial's Chris Knight named All-Area Boys Basketball Player of the Year]
Barneveld faced deep sadness in the week leading to its state tournament games. Jennifer Lease, the mother of Eagles sophomore Malcolm Reed, collapsed before the team’s sectional championship game and died later that day of a brain aneurysm. In the days before the state tournament, Lease’s visitation and funeral services were held.
But, under Jim Myers’ leadership, the Eagles (26-3) persevered.
They defeated Marshfield Columbus Catholic 72-52 in the Division 5 semifinal and then used Myers’ patented shifting zone defense and 20 points from senior Matthew Myers, the coach’s son, and 12 points from Reed in defeating Shullsburg 58-28 in the championship. That gave Jim Myers state titles as a girls and boys coach, placing him in select company.
“I never, ever got into coaching for any kind of records,” said Myers, who was named The Associated Press boys state coach of the year on Friday. “I have just been so blessed to do it for my hometown and to have the kids that we’ve had come through this program for the past 30 or 40 years. … I’m very happy and very proud.”
Edgewood, under Staveness’ direction, was driven all season to return to state after seeing a late lead slip away in a one-point loss to eventual champion Hayward in a Division 3 state semifinal a year ago.
“They had very much a business-like approach,” Staveness said. “Their mentality was one game at a time. … They all were focused on winning the title.”
The Crusaders (25-3), after a 6-3 start to this season, tightened their defense, improved sharing the ball and better incorporated role players alongside standouts Estella Moschkau, Katie Meriggioli and Caitlin Link and won their final 19 games.
[Moschkau named All-Area Girls Basketball Player of the Year]
They claimed the Division 3 championship with a 60-38 victory over Wrightstown in the semifinal and a 51-30 decision over Greendale Martin Luther in the title game. Stanford commit Moschkau, the Gatorade Player of the Year in the state, had 20 points and seven rebounds in the championship.
“I was very blessed with the group I had,” Staveness said.