If there was a season to break the Southern Door boys basketball team’s run of five consecutive Packerland Conference titles, 2019-20 was it. The Eagles lost more than 43 points per game to graduation, and the starting lineup opening night averaged just 22.7 points per game last season.
Returning starters Ryan Claflin and Alex Daoust – plus a supporting cast of role players who developed quickly – extended the title run to six by finishing 14-2 and tied for first place with Kewaunee. The Eagles defeated the Storm 53-48 on the road in the final game of the season to secure the tie.
Although Southern Door’s championship was certainly a team effort, Claflin stood out as a team leader for the 17-7 Eagles. The rest of the coaches in the Packerland Conference agreed by voting him Player of the Year.
Claflin turned in a special senior season, averaging 22.2 points and 6.7 rebounds per game, and finished his career with 1,188 points. He scored a season- and career-high 32 points twice, scored in double figures in all but one game, and scored 30 or more points four times.
“It was definitely a great honor to be selected Player of the Year,” Claflin said, “especially because there were so many players who were deserving of it.”
Claflin said that although others may have had some doubts about Southern Door’s chance to win the conference crown, he had a hunch that his team could be contenders.
“There was a little added pressure [losing so much scoring], but I was confident in myself and my teammates that we would get the job done,” said Claflin, who will play at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay next season. “I thought coming into the season we were underrated, so it was a great reward to keep the streak alive.”
Sturgeon Bay’s Gunnar Tebon and Sevastopol’s Robby Pollman also earned first-team honors. Tebon was a unanimous choice after averaging 22.2 points, 6.2 rebounds and 4.4 assists per game and leading the Clippers to a second-place finish in the Packerland standings at 13-3.
Sturgeon Bay coach Jim Benesh said Tebon was a big reason the team soared past expectations to compete for the conference title.
“I was very appreciative that Gunnar earned an unanimous selection,” Benesh said. “From the end of last season to the start of this season, Gunnar worked extremely hard. I don’t think I have had a player work any harder.”
Pollman scored 20.6 points and grabbed 4.4 rebounds for the Pioneers and broke the 1,000-point barrier midway through the season. The Pioneers finished 8-17 overall, including three conference wins in the last week of the season. Those eight victories were the most by a Sevastopol team since the 2010-11 team won 10 games.
“I worked hard and had fun while doing it,” Pollman said. “I’m glad to end my high school career on that note.”
Southern Door’s Alex Daoust, Sturgeon Bay’s Jake Schneider and Gibraltar’s Luke Steebs were named to the second team. Daoust averaged 15 points, 4.9 rebounds and 5.8 assists for the Eagles. Schneider scored 14.5 points and 6.7 rebounds per game, and Steebs averaged 15.5 points and 4.2 rebounds.
“Last year [Alex] was the fifth starter, but he didn’t play as big of a role because of the senior class,” Claflin said. “He made a huge leap this year. He put in a lot of work in the offseason, and it showed in his success and the team’s success.”
Sevastopol’s Brent Haberli and Gibraltar’s Dominic Krauel were named honorable mention. Haberli was the Pioneers’ second-leading scorer at 10.3 points per game and added 4.3 rebounds and 5.6 assists per outing. Krauel was Gibraltar’s third-leading scorer at 8.6 per game.
2019-20 BOYS BASKETBALL ALL-CONFERENCE TEAM
Name, school, year
* Unanimous selection
Tanor Bortolini, Kewaunee, senior
Marshal Bukowski, NEW Lutheran, junior
Ryan Carmichael, Kewaunee, senior*
Ryan Claflin, Southern Door, senior*
Robby Pollman, Sevastopol, senior
Cade Tackmier, Peshtigo, senior
Gunnar Tebon, Sturgeon Bay, senior*
Josh Woller, Oconto, junior
Alex Daoust, Southern Door, junior
Jake Schneider, Sturgeon Bay, senior
Luke Steebs, Gibraltar, junior
Carter Zimmerman, Algoma, sophomore
Breyden Demmith, Peshtigo, senior
Brent Haberli, Sevastopol, senior
Max Hanrahan, Kewaunee, senior
Ben Heim, Kewaunee, sophomore
Dominic Krauel, Gibraltar, senior
Landon Lemke, Peshtigo, sophomore
Caleb Moe, Oconto, junior
Chase Peronto, Algoma, senior
Alex Rohr, Kewaunee, junior
Jason Selner, Kewaunee, senior
Will Sherman, Oconto, junior
Player of the Year
Ryan Claflin, Southern Door, senior