Whitefish Bay NOW All-Suburban selection Joe Sherburne knew he had a good pedigree entering the storied world of North Shore basketball four years ago as a callow 6-3 freshman.
After all, his brother Jimmy was an All-Suburban selection in his own right in 2009 leading the Blue Dukes to a storied, still-talked-about victory over powerful Germantown. It was a victory that was critical in Bay winning the North Shore title that year and was a stepping stone for Jimmy to head off to Princeton, where he's on track to graduate from this spring.
But Joe was able to carve out his own niche, including a noted cameo as a freshman in the Blue Dukes' 2011 WIAA State D2 championship game victory over Merrill.
"I had been practicing with the junior varsity as an an eighth-grader already," Joe said, "and I was with the JV all season my freshman year. I was brought up to varsity for the state tournament and I got exactly 25.5 seconds of action in the state final," he added laughing.
That notable moment of success laid the groundwork for the future for Sherburne, who grew from 6-3 to 6-6 between his freshmen and sophomore years and then made himself a permanent fixture on the varsity front from then on out.
In the process, he transformed himself from just a singular outside threat to a strong all-around player as the Blue Dukes posted winning records all three years of his time on the team. He went over the 1,000 point barrier (1,001) for his career in the season-ending loss to Piux XI in the recently held WIAA regional final.
In the process, he led Bay to an 18-6 overall record this season, leading the team in scoring and rebounds and earning the second spot in assists. He was also honorable mention WBCA D2 All-State and co-North Shore Conference Player of the Year.
Coach Kevin Lazovik was impressed with his efforts.
"He just did so many many things for us," Lazovik said. "Rebounding, passing, taking out the ball against the press."
His forte' was long-range shooting, and he finished his career with an impressive 120 3-pointers; but he did want to be known for more than just that.
"After my sophomore year, I really started lifting the weights trying to get stronger," he said. "I wanted to be able to go to the basket be a better rebounder. I just didn't want to be known as the guy who put up 3s and floaters."
More importantly, in an era where Germantown has dominated North Shore and statewide basketball, the Blue Dukes have stayed strong, nipping at the heels but never quite getting to the Warhawks in time. During his three full years on varsity, Joe's teams were a combined 51-20.
"We were always competitive; we were never blown out," he said. "This year, it was a couple of points here or there. Still, it was a fun team to be on, everyone was cracking jokes."
Looking forward and back
Joe is now thinking about playing collegiate ball. He is strongly leaning towards American University, which was recently beaten in the NCAA Tournament at the Bradley Center by Final Four participant Wisconsin.
He would like to major in business or marketing.
Joe, like Jimmy, was urged into basketball by his mother Jan, who was a top-flight basketball player in her own right at Cudahy.
"Grandpa really urged her to go out and play," Joe said.
And yes, when he was a kid, he did watch Jimmy play ball.
"I would be dribbling my mini-ball on the sideline while Jimmy was on the court playing," Joe said.
He started playing rec league ball in first grade and joined the Junior Blue Dukes in fourth grade.
"I was always among the tallest kids in my class," Joe said. "Other guys said they'd catch up to me (in terms of height) but I just kept growing."
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