Fathers, sons embark on Prairie du Chien’s trip back to state

The court storm, the parade and a bus trip to Madison. Times change, but the tradition of reaching the pinnacle of high school hoops in a small town like Prairie du Chien that’s timeless.
Just ask Jim McCluskey, Andy Banasik or Mark Lenzendorf. Or you can ask their sons who Thursday will take the same ride in the same colors they did 30 seasons ago.

“Well, with about 12 seconds left when we were shooting free throws is when it set in,” said Blackhawks senior guard Connor George. “I was looking at everyone knowing we were heading to Madison.”

In 1986, the last time Prairie du Chien qualified for the Wisconsin state basketball tournament, a one-point overtime loss to Chilton kept them from a championship. This season, the Blackhawks sped to state thanks to an unselfish unit.

Head coach Andy Banasik plays 10 guys, four of whom score around 10 points apiece on a nightly basis. The Southwest conference did not stand a chance.
The team’s win streak now stands at 18 entering the Division 3 state semifinal tomorrow against Waupun (25-1).

“The team this year, we have had a consistent group,” said the Blackhawks’ vocal leader, Jacob Lenzendorf. “We are just a group of guys that really do not like to lose.”

For this group of dads, though, the best coaching left for their sons this late in the season has little to do with basketball.

“After the regional championship game I put my arm around him and I said, ‘It’s been a heck of a run. Just enjoy the moment. It is something you are going to remember forever,” said Connor George’s step-father, Jim McCluskey.

Trophies wear. Other treasures are timeless.