Krenzien named to All-Suburban Team
Defense, desire, leadership keyed senior guard's play
One play comes to mind when thinking about Wauwatosa West senior guard Sam Krenzien and the way he plays the game.
The Trojans were battling the Falcons at Whitnall, it was late in the game and West had lost a sizable lead.
Krenzien was one of four players who scrambled for a loose ball in front of the Trojans' net. Suddenly out of the scrum Krenzien grabbed the ball, tossed it straight into the air and watched it fall through for the basket.
The foul was called on the Whitnall defender, sending Krenzien to the line, where he converted the free throw, giving the Trojans back the lead they never lost again.
Referred to as the "heart and soul" of their team by head coach Mike Landisch, Krenzien averaged 15.8 points, 5.7 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game as the Trojans finished the year with a 17-7 overall record and a 13-4 Woodland Conference Black Division mark, good enough for second place behind New Berlin Eisenhower (16-1, 22-2).
Krenzien helped the Trojans achieve their best Woodland Black Division record since 2006 in his third year as a starter for West. The senior guard made a name for himself with his all-around offensive game, while leading a stifling full-court press that gave opposing teams headaches.
"Sam gets the job done on both sides of the ball and his game is a tribute to the hard work he puts in every day at practice," Landisch said. "He is definitely a player who leads by example."
Assistant coach Chad Stelse praised Krenzien for his all-around play.
"Sam was the catalyst of our offense the last two seasons," he said. "When Sam went well, the team went well. He was valuable to our team's success at both ends of the court. Both on and off the court, Sam epitomized what we as coaches look for in a Tosa West athlete."
Krenzien knew early in the year that this team could be something special after the Trojans rallied from 15 points down with two minutes left to beat Appleton East (22-6), a team that ended its season at the state tournament in Madison.
"That gave us a sign, no matter what we're facing, we knew we could play with anyone when we did that," Krenzien said. "We knew we had to fight for 32 minutes."
Being a senior, this was a big year for Krenzien.
"It was important to me to have a good season - this being my third year on the varsity - so I took it on myself and felt confident I could get the job done," Krenzien said. "I would get in a zone. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn't."
Krenzien, his teammates and the coaching staff were shaken up in January, when Landisch told the team he had kidney cancer.
"One thing I will never forget, when coach told us (about the cancer), I remember where we were, how quiet it got. We didn't know what to do. It's a life-changing moment when something that big happens.
"We got emotional and tried to gear our feelings toward basketball, but we still had to fight through the ups and downs."
With Landisch undergoing surgery and then recovering on the sidelines, the team knew what it had to do.
"We didn't have to talk about it," Krenzien said. "We knew coach was having a hard time. He told us don't worry about him. So we gave it our all, came out and worked hard to do everything we could do to win.
"We knew that meant more to him than us getting all emotional over it. Any time we can get a win, doing it would help the situation coach was in, so winning meant a lot more. Our confidence went up. We had that to play for."
Assistant coach Ryan Bailey had plenty of good things to say about Krenzien.
"He is the most versatile player I have ever coached or played with at Wauwatosa West," Bailey said. "He is a guy who stuffs the stat sheet. Not only does he pass, rebound and score, but he gets after it on defense.
"If he was not guarding the other team's best player, he would ask to. This shows how much of a competitor he is."
Player of the Year: J.P. Tokoto, Menomonee Falls
Coach of the Year: Wauwatosa West staff
Team members and voting point totals: Tokoto (66); Nick Romanowski, Franklin (62); Will Pelkofer, Whitnall (51); Alex Diciaula, Brookfield Central (44); Chad Mathwig, New Berlin West (42.5); Mitch Sperka, New Berlin Eisenhower (41); Sam Krenzien, Wauwatosa West (38); Alec Molter, Greenfield (36); Zak Showalter, Germantown (33.5); John Johnston, Whitefish Bay (29)
High honorable mention: Myles Henry, Nicolet (25); John Laihinen, Homestead (24); C.J. Gregg, Brookfield East (19); Coy Smith, Homestead (14)
Honorable mention: Conor Cassidy, Menomonee Falls; John Cording, Menomonee Falls; Christian Griggs-Williams, Nicolet; Deion Jackson-Body, Shorewood; Jamon Jackson-Wilson, Brown Deer; Jake Lehman, Whitnall; Austin Malone-Mitchell, Shorewood; Josh Mongan, Germantown; Kierre Ogbonna, Brown Deer; Alex Olson, Brookfield Central; Jacob Pope, Muskego; Stephen Pelkofer, Whitnall; Jonathan Phillips, Menomonee Falls; Adam Rubatt, Menomonee Falls; Danny Sayles, Wauwatosa East; Jamie Schneck, Whitefish Bay; Ray Sterling, Wauwatosa West; Nick Stout, Oak Creek
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