It’s not the big things that matter. It’s the little things that add up to big things.
It’s coach speak, no doubt. But it’s also true. And it’s something Eau Claire North’s Todd Marks preaches to his team. And nobody embodies that axiom like Jack Kron.
Maybe no player in the area is as valuable to his team as the Huskies’ senior point guard. The defending Big Rivers Conference champions have plenty of talent and firepower. But it’s Kron who makes them tick. He does the big things. But more importantly, he does all the little things.
“That kid is just a flat-out competitor,” Marks said.
Perhaps the best illustration of Kron’s influence was Friday’s 87-86 double-overtime win over La Crosse Central. It was the very best of high school basketball. And it showcased the very best of Kron.
He scored a career-high 26 points, including seven huge points in the final minute of the first overtime. He also hit a go-ahead runner with 25 seconds left in the second overtime.
But his most valuable contributions didn’t involve scoring. He spent most of crunch time cramping up. But he battled through without so much as a glance at the bench. Central point guard Noah Parcher is no slouch, meaning Kron was working his tail off defensively on every possession. Offensively he had to handle the ball against pressure and double teams.
Late in regulation, with his team down one, Kron took a charge to get the ball back. Then on the other end, he showed extreme patience and vision on an inbounds pass to find Noah Hanson alone in the corner for a go-ahead 3-pointer late in the 5 count.
“I was counting in my head, and I was at like 4,” Kron said. “I saw him sneak into the corner. I just passed it to him, and he drained a 3.”
Then, with 1.1 seconds left in the second overtime and the game on the line, he made another crucial inbounds pass, finding Dalton Banks for the game-winning basket. He didn’t rush the pass. He waited that extra half second so Banks could clear a defender and have an uncontested look at the rim.
“That IQ is off the charts,” Marks said. “He’s so intelligent, and he’s a competitor. He thrives in the big moment and doesn’t get rattled and just competes.”
Kron’s played a ton of ball for the Huskies (2-0). Time flies by in a varsity career. The promising sophomore is now an established senior. He’s in his third year running the show for North and has blossomed into perhaps the area’s premier point guard.
“It’s definitely a little different being the senior this year, trying to have guys look up to me,” Kron said. “I have to take them under my wing, just lead them.”
If the Huskies follow his lead, they’ll be just fine.
Player of the week: Logan Mulhern, Osseo-Fairchild. This kid is prone to some gaudy stat lines. But even by his standards, Thursday’s was a monster one. He scored 38 points and grabbed 24 rebounds in a win over Fall Creek.
Team of the week: Whitehall (3-0, 2-0 Large Dairyland). The Norse won two games last year. They’ve already surpassed that total with quality wins over Independence, Cochrane-Fountain City and Eleva-Strum. Keep an eye on this team.
Elk Mound at Durand, 7:15 p.m. today: An early showdown between two of the trendy picks to capture the Dunn-St. Croix title. We’ll stick with the defending champs. Ziemer’s pick: Elk Mound.
Chippewa Falls at Rice Lake, 7:15 p.m. today: The Warriors are a popular pick to win the Big Rivers. Can the Cardinals’ size cause problems for the up-tempo Warriors? Ziemer’s pick: Rice Lake.
Elk Mound vs. Bloomer, 5 p.m. Saturday: It’s the student vs. the teacher as former Eau Claire Memorial JV coach Michael Kessler leads the Mounders against former Memorial varsity coach Greg Van Grunsven and the Blackhawks at the Northwest Tip-Off Classic at UW-Stout’s Johnson Fieldhouse. The loser has to tattoo the winner’s face onto their chest, right? Ziemer’s pick: Bloomer.
Altoona vs. Waupun, 8 p.m. Saturday: The main event of the Northwest Tip-Off Classic features the Railroaders against the Marcus Domask-led Warriors. The 6-foot-6 junior already has offers from the likes of UW-Green Bay, UW-Milwaukee, Northern Iowa and Drake. Ziemer’s pick: Waupun.
Chippewa Falls’ Tyler Robarge scored a career-high 29 points in Tuesday’s 73-67 double-overtime win over D.C. Everest. That included a 3-point play in the final 3 seconds of the first overtime to tie the game and force a second OT. He later capped the thrilling win with a dunk. ... Immanuel Lutheran’s Jordan Rutz went off for a career-high 31 points in Tuesday’s win over Independence. ... McDonell’s Hayden Baughman scored a career-best 31 in Monday’s win over Colfax. ... Also Monday, Lake Holcombe’s Trent Novak scored a career-high 28 in a win over Prentice. ... North’s Hanson joined Kron in notching a career high against Central. Hanson had 25 points.
Joe Ziemer’s top 10 teams, regardless of enrollment, from the L-T coverage area:
2. Rice Lake...................3-0
6. River Falls....................1-1
7. Chippewa Falls.............2-2