Diamond Stone soared over his competition once again
Whitefish Bay Dominican junior earns second All-Suburban nod
The college question is still being carefully evaluated by two-time NOW All-Suburban and two-time all-state selection Diamond Stone of Whitefish Bay Dominican.
The 6-10 junior phenom, who just led the Knights to their third straight WIAA Division 4 state title, is on everyone's short list for NCAA Division I stardom and he is maturing rapidly before everyone's eyes.
He changed physically over the last year, trimming down and strengthening himself. He appeared more agile and more willing to run the court. It all impressed his coach Derek Berger.
"His ability has improved so much over the last year," Berger said. "He really changed his body. Now he's all muscle and his ability to get up and down (the floor) is amazing. He's faster than almost anyone we have on the team."
Stone led the Knights to a 25-3 record this winter, including a season-ending 18-game winning streak and routs of Brillion and Blair-Taylor in the state tournament. Stone had 30 points, 12 rebounds and seven blocked shots in the 78-47 semifinal victory over Brillion and 28 points, 11 rebounds and eight blocks in the 74-50 win over Blair-Taylor in the final.
"My main job is to maintain focus because I know everyone (on the opposing team) is going to be aggressive towards me," he said.
And with talent like that, it was relatively easy for the Knights to make history and become one of only a handful of teams in history to earn three WIAA state titles in a row.
Germantown, which routed the Knights in a December game at Homestead, also earned that distinction in this year's state tournament, beating Neenah for the Division 1 crown.
Berger said absorbing a loss like that, as well as tough defeats to Division 2 state finalist Rice Lake and Orr High School (Chicago) during the regular season toughened the team up.
"Taking a hit like that (the 75-29 loss to Germantown) really did help us," he said. "It told us that nothing is going to be given to us this season."
So the Knights went out and took it.
They went 16-0 in the Metro Classic Conference with Stone earning league player of the year honors and then they had to battle through what was arguably the toughest Division 4 sectional in the state, outlasting 19-5 traditional state power Racine St. Catherine's (65-55) in the sectional semifinal and then knocking Oshkosh Lourdes (25-1) from the unbeaten ranks with a 66-42 sectional final win.
That kind of achievement was not a given this season. With former Dominican all-state guard Duane Wilson at Marquette, the team was very frontcourt heavy.
"Going into the season we knew that Diamond (Stone) and Jack (Jelacic) were the leaders of the team," said Berger, "but we knew how hard they had worked and how hard they played. They're good kids and we knew what to expect from them."
Which was leadership, and junior guard Tyrone Bressler Jr. (10.8 ppg.), senior guard Chris Topp (6.8) and junior guard Austin Moutry (5.8 ppg.) followed their lead. Jelacic averaged 8.5 ppg. with 46 blocks and 152 rebounds.
"The guys were just super all season," Berger said. "We knew we were favorites going into a lot of our games, but we tried to show respect to every team we played. We had to see what kind of talent was out there, who could play."
And now the process begins again. Seniors like Topp, Jelacic, Kyle Dlugopolski, Quinton Miller, Kenny Wolfe and Peter Wycklendt will graduate, but with Stone, Bressler and Moutry and some expected high-level talent coming into the school next fall, the Knights will be prohibitive favorites for a fourth straight state crown.
Things like the multiplier effect, which could move the Knights up a division in state competition, are still being discussed by the WIAA, but Berger, who has won a state title in each of his two years at the helm, is just going to deal with what he can control.
"I know I've been very fortunate, very blessed," he said. "We try to pace the kids, not wear them out. We try to construct long-term relationships here."
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