Conley Malone is ready for the next phase of his life.
He just received information on his dorm assignment for the University of Wisconsin in the fall, and has had time to adjust to what’s coming instead of living life as a student at Aquinas High School.
“It’s strange to know that I won’t be playing competitive sports again,” Malone said on Wednesday, just a couple of weeks after graduating from Aquinas. “But I think I’m ready for that, and I think I’m at a point where I can leave it behind.”
He will do that on Saturday after suiting up for the Division 4 South at the Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association all-star games at JustAgame Fieldhouse in Wisconsin Dells, Wis.
Malone, whose team is being coached by Onalaska Luther’s Brad Schaper, is spending this week practicing with nine teammates to play their counterparts from the North at 10:45 a.m. It is the second of five games that day and follows five games played by girls all-star teams on Friday.
The final chance to play, according to Malone, is close to the perfect ending to a four-year varsity career with the Blugolds. Winning a state championship, of course, is the only thing that could be better.
“This is a good last hurrah to be spending this time with these guys and getting to play in front of everyone at JustAgame,” Malone said during a break from practice at Viterbo University. “This is a fun last experience to have.”
Teammate Mitchel Schneider did get the chance of finishing his career with a state title while playing for Manitowoc Roncalli last March, but Malone knows he has very little to complain about after playing football and basketball and establishing himself as a relay specialist on the track and field team.
Malone did experience some injuries in football but played both quarterback and wide receiver on offense and was an All-MVC second-team pick as a defensive back. He scored 1,099 points for the Blugolds — he ranks seventh on the team’s career scoring list — and was a sophomore starter when they qualified for the WIAA Division 4 state tournament and lost to eventual champion Whitefish Bay Dominican 54-46 in the semifinals.
Malone, who averaged 17.4 points, 5.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists and 2.7 steals as the Blugolds went 13-13 in basketball this past season, also competed in the state track and field meet four times in eight relay events. His teams missed qualifying for the finals just once, and he owns one second-place and four third-place medals in the 400, 800 and 1,600 relays.
He spent his senior season running the 400, but he was pleased with the choice to move him back into relays for the postseason because of the team aspect.
“Competing as an individual is one thing, but being able to be part of a team is another, and I have always liked that,” said Malone, who may compete in some intramural sports while he majors in biology at Wisconsin. “I was happy to move to the relays.”
SCHAPER ENJOYING ROLE: Schaper jumped at the chance to coach an all-star team and had some pretty specific ideas of how to round out his staff. He chose Luther assistant coach Mark Loersch and Arcadia coach Ryan Sonnentag to join him in the experience.
He is familiar with both and said he has enjoyed a friendly rivalry with Sonnentag since he took over the Arcadia program in 2013.
“We have a lot of fun going back and forth with each other during the season,” Schaper said. “I knew I wanted him to be involved with this.”
They quickly developed a game plan that Schaper thought would make the experience the most enjoyable, and it just so happened to be something he has enjoyed plenty of success with as the Knights’ coach.
“We like to get up and down the floor, and what I wanted to do was stay away from over-coaching these kids,” said Schaper, who welcomed his players to Onalaska on Tuesday. “They are great players, and let’s just let them play and see what they can do. I want this to be a fun week for them.”
Schaper’s basketball parents put together a brat fry for the team on Tuesday night, and Schaper scheduled a couple of practices and a Wednesday night scrimmage against a team of players from the Coulee Conference. The team travels to Wisconsin Dells on Thursday morning, and the WBCA handles hosting duties from there.