By Dan Truttschel~Sports Correspondent
The impact that Wilmot senior boys basketball players Nate Hensel and Brandon Schattner made the past four years certainly can’t be overlooked.
Both standouts recently landed on the All-SLC first team to highlight the postseason for Wilmot. They were joined by junior Bryce Kothe, who was named honorable mention.
Hensel was second in scoring this year with 353 points (16.0 per game). He led the way in made field goals (128), rebounds (89), was second in free throws (70) and third in assists (30) and steals (35).
“I thought Nate had a great season for us,” Wilmot coach Jake Erbentraut said. “He became a better all-around player and produced some really good things for us.
“He was our captain and someone we relied on to create things for our team. He was a very difficult matchup and became the leader we knew that he could become. It was special watching him blossom this year.”
Hensel plans to compete at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater next year, which won its fourth NCAA Division III title last weekend in Virginia.
It may take a little time for Hensel to work into the rotation with the Warhawks, but Erbentraut is confident his former pupil will do what it takes to get there – and probably sooner rather than later.
“They’re getting a very determined young man who works hard at what he does,” Erbentraut said. “He had a steady improvement and was overlooked, to some degree, to start but as time went on and he put in the time, he became a highly-respected player.
“There are people who doubt his ability to make it at Whitewater, but if anyone can make it, it would be him.”
Schattner led the Panthers with 360 points this season, good for 16.4 per game. He also was first in made free throws (91), 3-pointers (31) and steals (58). In addition, Schattner grabbed 44 rebounds and was second on the team with 62 assists.
His 58 steals were an SLC record in a season when Schattner also eclipsed the school’s individual game scoring mark with a 45-point effort against Burlington.
“Aside from the records, he led the program to new heights that we have not seen in some time,” Erbentraut said. “I think that’s a reflection in the success that both Brandon and Nate brought to Wilmot.”
Schattner will continue his playing career in the fall at Augustana College (Rock Island, Ill.), and his former coach expects his career to continue growing.
“They are going to get a highly competitive, team-first individual that is grounded in high character,” Erbentraut said.
Erbentraut knows next year will be different without two players he moved up the ranks with during his time at Wilmot.
“It’s going to be very different not coaching them,” he said. “I’ve worked with them for four years, and we have developed from a player-coach relationship to a friendship.
“I’m going to miss working with them but know they have more to achieve.”
The Panthers’ third selection, Kothe, may not have had the eye-popping statistics this year, but he did so many things well, and that’s why he ended up on the honorable mention team, Erbentraut said.
For the year, Kothe led the way with 68 assists, scored 92 points (4.0 per game), made 29 free throws, five 3-pointers, had 43 rebounds and 38 steals.
“He did so many things that so few people realized and did things that did not show up in the statistics,” Erbentraut said. “He watched a lot of film and is one of the smartest players I’ve ever coached.
“That was evidenced by what he did on the court. All that aside, he is a great young man who is all about the right things. We’ll definitely rely on him next year.”
Wilmot finished the year at 17-6 overall, including a second-place finish in the SLC, both solid accomplishments, but Erbentraut admitted he felt this group could have done even more.
“I think if you ask (the players and coaches), we have some unfinished business that we won’t get a chance to redeem,” he said. “That being said, I couldn’t be more proud of this team and the accomplishments that we made and am privileged to have coached (them).
“We’re losing nine seniors for next season with three returning juniors. We’ll also have a group that has not played much basketball together. It will certainly be an adjustment, but I’m also really excited for this challenge.”