Pelkofer's off-season nets full ride to Northern Michigan
Whitnall hoops senior shone in Dells tourney
Greenfield - After his sparkling junior season for the Whitnall boys team, many high school basketball fans in this area certainly knew all about Stephen Pelkofer.
This past summer and fall, though, fans, players and coaches from throughout Wisconsin and beyond had the opportunity to learn about his talents and personal drive.
The senior wing player competed in both an AAU tournament at Homestead High School in July and a Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association event at Wisconsin Dells in September, making a strong impression in both venues.
Full scholarship offer
His reward was a full scholarship offer from Northern Michigan University in Marquette, Mich., and he has accepted the offer from the NCAA Division II school.
"This is really exciting," said Pelkofer, who averaged 16.5 points and 3.5 rebounds while netting 25 three-point goals last season. "This is what I have worked for my whole life, and it's a dream come true."
Pelkofer, who will major in the business, finance and accounting area, has a number of reasons for choosing Northern Michigan.
"I love the style of play there, which is to get up and down the floor a lot," he said. "Marquette is a good campus town, and the campus is located right on Lake Superior. I also like the coaching staff (led by Doug Lewis), and the players."
Lewis is a Milwaukee native who has brought in a number of Wisconsin players, including Quinten Calloway of Marquette High School, Terry Nash of Wisconsin Lutheran and Haki Stampley of Milwaukee Hamilton. Pelkofer has played either with or against these players in past years and is looking forward to being on the same team with them at Northern Michigan.
He will play alongside Nash, whose Lutheran team knocked Whitnall out of last year's WIAA Division 2 playoffs with a sectional semifinal victory.
Whitnall coach Kent Kroupa is happy for his star player.
"(The offer) was probably even better than we expected, but it was well-deserved," Kroupa said. "Stephen worked hard to put himself in this position, and he is probably the hardest-working kid I have ever coached."
Showing off work ethic
That work ethic was just one of the attributes on display in this year's events at Homestead and Wisconsin Dells.
In fact, his very presence at the Dells tournament showed his innate competitiveness and desire, since it fell on the day after a Friday Whitnall football game, necessitating some quick travel.
On that Friday evening, Pelkofer caught six passes for 70 yards in a 28-14 loss to New Berlin Eisenhower, then shortly after the game, he and father Steve drove to Wisconsin Dells, arriving at about midnight.
After some limited sleep, Pelkofer hit the basketball court at about 8 a.m., overcoming both fatigue and the little aches and pains that every football player feels the day after a game.
"It was tough," he said. "It's always tough after a game, but the adrenaline takes away all the pain."
The one-day showcase featured the best players in the state, and Pelkofer did well throughout, making the 15-man all-tournament team in a field of over 200 boys.
He also earned a special honor, the Best Unheralded Player Award, a testimony to the fact that he really made a name for himself on a state-wide basis.
Pelkofer also impressed college coaches, including Lewis of Northern Michigan, who had actually been watching him since last year.
"They were interested in a two-guard with good size and strength," Kroupa said. "They came to an open gym at Whitnall, and things progressed from there."
With his college decision now behind him, Pelkofer can focus on a promising 2011-12 season for the Falcons, who were rated eighth in Division 2 by the Wisconsin Basketball Yearbook.
"We definitely exceeded our expectations last year," he said, "and this year, we already have big expectations."
Whitnall began its season with a 60-56 victory over Milwaukee Washington on Friday night at Wisconsin Lutheran College.
LEADING SCORERS: Stephen Pelkofer 25 points (four three-point goals), Luke Mentkowski 17 points (three three-point goals) and Bryan Nagy six points.
GAME REPORT: The Falcons led for most of the game and were up by 10 points going into the fourth quarter before the Purgolders made a late rush.
COACH KENT KROUPA: "We played solid defense and the kids were poised and under control. The leadership of Pelkofer, Mentkowski and Nagy made a difference. Sam Watson, Brent Sluka and Sam Mentkowski also played well."
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