Defense fuels Tigers’ successful season

¦ Howards Grove’s outlook bright for 2013-14 campaign
by Greg Ceilley of The Review staff

ETHAN BRINKMAN (right) was named the Howards Grove Tigers’ MVP for the 2012-13 basketball season. The sophomore guard was an All-CLC first-team pick this year. — Review file photo ETHAN BRINKMAN (right) was named the Howards Grove Tigers’ MVP for the 2012-13 basketball season. The sophomore guard was an All-CLC first-team pick this year. — Review file photo HOWARDS GROVE — A strong defense keyed a successful 2012-13 boys basketball season for the Howards Grove Tigers.

The Tigers tied for third place in the Central Lakeshore Conference with an 11-5 record and finished 16-8 overall. They advanced to the Division 4 regional finals.

“The coaching staff was very pleased with overall results of the season. The conference was loaded on the top end with solid teams and I thought Howards Grove was very competitive,” said Tiger head coach Mark Christenson.

“The nonconference games were challenging and even though we lost to Algoma and Fond du Lac St. Mary’s Springs, I thought both of those games helped prepare us for the rest of games on the schedule.

“Wins against Eastern Wisconsin conference teams Kiel and New Holstein were nice and the win versus Denmark was solid. The tournament win against Manitowoc Lutheran was hard-earned as they played in such a good conference [Olympian] during the year,” said the coach.

The Tigers edged Lutheran, 45-42, in the regional semifinals. In the finals, Howards lost to No. 1-seeded Shiocton, 60-40. The Tigers trailed only 32-25 at halftime. Shiocton was ranked No. 10 in the Associated Press D-4 poll.

“I thought Shiocton was an outstanding team and we held our own until the end of the third [quarter],” Christenson recalled.

The coach pointed out the highlights of the season.

“After starting the season 2-3, it was a highlight to go 14-5 for the rest of the season,” he said.

“After losing to Ozaukee on Feb. 5, it was great to come back a week later and beat them at their place by three.”

Ozaukee shared third in the CLC with Howards.

“We were proud of the fact that we could play well enough during the year to get us a four [regional] seed in a sectional that was topheavy with good teams,” Christenson noted.

He mentioned the keys to having a strong season.

Scoring Leaders

Pts. Avg.
Ethan Brinkman…………….426 17.8
Austin Edge..……................274 11.4
Davis Nennig.......................218 10.9

Rebounding Leaders

No. Avg.
Nennig………………….........111 5.6
Brevin Scholten………...........94 3.9

Steal Leaders

No. Avg.
Austin Edge…….………….....38 1.6
Garrett Jahnke………....….....35 1.5

Assist Leaders

No. Avg.
Jahnke…………………........125 5.2
Edge………………….....…….58 2.4

“Being able to overcome a lack of height to be competitive. I was happy with how hard we played. That usually translates to putting out a great deal of effort on the defensive end of the floor and I thought as a group we did that,” said Christenson.

“Defense was a key to our success. In games where we could keep our turnover totals down, we would find enough ways to score and then added a good defensive effort to usually come out on top,” said the coach.

The Tigers allowed an average of only 46.0 points per game.

“Another key was being able to put enough pressure on teams on the perimeter to make it difficult for them to hurt us inside,” said the coach.

“With a lack of height, it was important for us not to allow teams to get the ball to the inside which would create too many easy scores for opponents. We were able to overcome a lack of rebounding this way.”

Christenson commented on several players and their strong play this past season.

“Ethan Brinkman [guard] had an outstanding sophomore year. He was our leading scorer. Junior and senior years ahead of him speaks well for him,” he said.

“He was a unanimous all-conference [first-team] selection and his best basketball is ahead of him.

“Austin Edge [junior] was our second leading scorer. He also picked up 71 rebounds which is outstanding for a point guard. He was second on the team in assists and was chosen to the all-conference second team,” said Christenson.

“Davis Nennig [forward] returned to play after missing his junior year with an ACL [anterior cruciate ligament] injury and led the team in rebounding despite missing the last four games with another knee injury). Davis was an honorable mention all-conference selection.

“Garrett Jahnke [senior guard] led the team in assists with and Brevin Scholten [senior forward] was the second leading rebounder. Brevin also drew many tough defensive assignments and had an outstanding year on that end of the court,” the coach said.

Christenson expressed thanks to several individuals.

“Special thank-yous go out to assistant coaches Dave Scheel and Bryan Groshek, and Deb Knoener who not only was our scorekeeper at home games but also did all the away games, her husband Steve who helped with setup and organization at all home games and Randy Sixel, the best bus driver ever,” he said.

Christenson said next season shows a lot of promise with the toptwo scorers returning and the junior varsity and freshman teams posting 18-4 and 16-4 records, respectively.


Brinkman was named the Tigers’ Most Valuable Player. He led the Tigers in scoring with a 17.8 points-per-game average; threepoint goals, 58; and three-point shooting, 42 percent (58 of 139).

Nennig was the top rebounder with 111 (5.6 average per contest). Jahnke led in assists with 125 (5.2 average). Edge had a team-high 38 steals (1.6 average).

Jahnke led in overall field-goal shooting with a red-hot 62 percent, followed by Nennig with an outstanding 61 percent.

The leading free-throw shooters were Brinkman at 74 percent (118-for-160), Edge with 72 percent (57 of 79) and Jahnke, 72 percent (48 of 67).

Awards went to the Tigers’ leaders in assists, rebounding and free-throw shooting. Brinkman, Edge and Jahnke shared the award in free-throw accuracy. Scholten received the team captain’s pin.

The varsity team had a 3.61 overall grade-point average and was nominated for the Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association Academic All-State award. The results will be announced in late April.

The Tigers’ varsity letter winners included: seniors – Jahnke, Tom Hansen, Nennig, Chris Niemann and Scholten; juniors – Edge and C.J. Berg; and sophomores – Brinkman.

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