Despite loss of all-state player, Port boys eager to show theyâre still a threat
You could say the Port Washington boysâ basketball team will be PG-rated this season.
Post-Gasser-rated, that is.
After losing the best player in school history to graduation, the Pirates will be placed under the microscope by fans eager to see how they respond.
Gone is Josh Gasser, the all-state guard who took his 24-point, 10-rebound and 5-assist per-game averages to the University of Wisconsin-Madison as a prize recruit of the menâs basketball program.
Also graduated are starters Cory Steinmetz and Zach Schultz and reserves Jay Davel and Adam Prom.
At first blush, it appears Port has little chance of matching last seasonâs 19-5 record and North Shore Conference co-championship. But donât count Pirates coach John Bunyan among the naysayers.
âWe have a really athletic, good group of players who are hard-working and pretty focused,â Bunyan said.
âI think they understand that Josh isnât here anymore, and itâs their time to take over.â
Port, which shared the NSC title with Germantown (both at 10-4), has no shortage of talent on paper.
Shane Kennedy, a 6-foot-4-inch senior forward, is back for his third varsity season. He returns as the Piratesâ top front-line player, having averaged 10 points and six rebounds per game last year.
Portâs backcourt will be led by junior point man Sawyer Mosley (5-10) and senior Joey McIlree (6-0), who provide quickness and scoring ability.
Mosley, who averaged seven points per game as a sophomore, âis a great talent whoâs ready to come into own this season,â Bunyan said. âHeâs quick off the dribble and can hit the outside jumper.â
McIlree, one of the leagueâs top perimeter defenders, is known for his tenacity. âAnd he can penetrate and draw fouls,â Bunyan said.
The Pirates are also counting on steady work from seniors Marcus Lackovic (5-9 guard) and Luke Schueller (6-5 forward), juniors Kyle Rismeyer (6-4 forward) and Zach Hauser (6-3 center) and sophomore Joe Burbach (6-4 forward).
Lackovic, Schueller and Rismeyer all contributed in reserve roles last season and âare very good athletes who have improved their games,â Bunyan said.
Hauser and Burbach are new varsity additions.
Hauser will be counted on to use his 225-pound frame to bolster the front line. Burbach is a transfer student from Whitefish Bay Dominican who âruns the floor well and has some good skills,â Bunyan said.
Senior Alex Sparr (6-4) is also back with the team but is recovering from a knee injury he sustained in football.
âWe lost quite a bit to graduation,â he said, noting that Gasser and Steinmetz provided about half of the Piratesâ scoring last season. âBut this can be a really good team.
âMy biggest concern is that they know theyâre good basketball players. I want them to step up and play with confidence.â
With most of its top players back, Germantown is a heavy favorite to repeat as conference champion this season. Bunyan also expects Whitefish Bay, Homestead, Nicolet and Milwaukee Lutheran to have solid teams â along with his own.
âI think the league will be well-balanced,â he said. âWe lost Josh, but a lot of other teams lost their best kids, too.â
The Pirates will open the season with a pair of games this weekend in a holiday tournament at Manitowoc Lincoln High School.
In Fridayâs semifinals, Port plays Little Chute at 6 p.m., and Manitowoc plays Oregon. On Saturday, the consolation game is at 6 p.m., followed by the title contest at 7:30 p.m.
THE LEADERSHIP of point guard Sawyer Mosley will be one of the keys to success this season for the Port Washington boysâ basketball team.Â Photo by Sam Arendt