Greendale coach Paul Krajewski and his team made an impressive turnaround after a 1-2 start that allowed the Panthers to challenge Whitnall for the South Division title in the Woodland Conference.
The Panthers had a run of 10 victories in 12 games that put them atop the division. That they could not seal the deal and ended up 10-6 in the conference and 13-9 overall did nothing to sour the season for Krajewski.
"Once we got to the point where we had an opportunity to win the division, no matter where we had started from, at that particular point we came a long, long way," Krajewski said. "That's a credit to all the kids.
"It was disappointing down the stretch to not be able to finish the job within the division."
The Panthers will lose five seniors, four of whom started. Nobody was more important than 6-foot-1-inch guard Alex Merg, who finally shook the back problem that caused him to miss half of his junior season to share player-of-the-year honors (with Bryan Stave of Whitnall) in the Woodland South. Merg, who missed the season opener, averaged 17.7 points, 4.5 assists, 2.9 steals and 3.9 rebounds a game.
"We relied a lot on him on both ends of the floor," Krajewski said. "We ran a lot of things offensively through him. He had the ability to score, the ability to distribute the ball and still contribute very well on the glass, which a lot of times you don't get from the guard position.
"Defensively with the steals, and being able to take on some of the opponents best players and do a very nice job. "His ballhandling skills are really, really good. His ability to see the floor … just a solid all-around player."
Merg was by no means a one-man show. Center Todd Barrett averaged right around 11 points and forward Stuart Mohoney nine. Barrett and Mohoney are seniors.
The fourth senior who started is Neal Stineman. He was joined by sophomore Andrew Brees. Krajewski also received contributions from juniors Jacob Merk and Cordney Wren in the backcourt and junior Andy Scherwin in the frontcourt.
Krajewski said Evan Goyette, a 6-2 junior forward, improved a lot during the season. The fifth senior is guard Scott Budach.
Krajewski reported the junior varsity tied Whitnall for the division title with a 12-4 record. That could bode well for next season.
After losing to South Division champion Whitnall twice and North Division winner New Berlin Eisenhower in the final four games of the regular season, the Panthers beat Whitewater in a WIAA Division 2 regional semifinal and went to Catholic Memorial and gave the Crusaders a fight before fading in the second half.
"It's always a great opportunity if you can advance to the sectionals of the state tournament," Krajewski said. "It didn't happen. With the work ethic and what the kids gave us, I give credit to all of them. It was a good year.
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