Chris Knight and Estella Moschkau traveled distinctly different routes to arrive at this point.
Knight, a 6-foot-8 senior, made his way to Madison Memorial after living in New York City and DeForest, and saw his basketball ability transform from middle-school awkwardness to high-school refinement as a scorer, rebounder and high-flying shot-blocker and highlight-reel dunker for the Spartans.
Moschkau, a 6-2 senior at Madison Edgewood, progressed from a ball-handling Tri-County youth player in Mount Horeb … to AAU whiz … to an all-around high-school standout who’s adept maneuvering for inside baskets, connecting from deep or snaring a rebound and racing, with her long strides, up the court – an eye always on an assist.
Despite being elite prep basketball players in this area and in the state, they only met the other day -- knowing about each other only through an occasional game or two they’d witnessed and, of course, the seemingly ubiquitous social media.
What they found they have in common was a talent for the game and a hope that their best is yet to come. They each were diligent workers who were focal points in their teams’ successful seasons. How unselfishly their teams played was most important to them.
Moschkau led the Crusaders to a share of the Badger South Conference title with Monroe and Stoughton, then to the big prize: the WIAA Division 3 state girls basketball championship at the Resch Center in Ashwaubenon. Edgewood’s year-long goal was realized with a 21-point victory over Greendale Martin Luther in the title game.
Knight led the Spartans to a share of the Big Eight Conference crown with Sun Prairie, which was the 14th consecutive season Memorial has outright won or shared the league title. The Spartans then advanced to the WIAA Division 1 state tournament semifinals at the Kohl Center, dropping a hard-fought game to eventual champion Stevens Point.
They will go from high school to two outstanding academic institutions on opposite coasts, Knight at the Ivy League’s Dartmouth College in New Hampshire and Moschkau at the Pac-12’s Stanford University in California.
With all this in mind, it’s clear to see why Knight was named the Wisconsin State Journal/WisconsinPrepZone.com All-Area Boys Basketball Player of the Year for 2016-17 and Moschkau was selected as the Wisconsin State Journal/WisconsinPrepZone.com All-Area Girls Basketball Player of the Year.
Drive, discipline and defense fuel Moschkau
In her 24 seasons, Edgewood coach Lora Staveness hasn’t seen a player with the skill set possessed by Moschkau, the Gatorade girls player of the year, co-Miss Basketball winner and a first-team all-state choice.
“She is one of the special ones,” Staveness said, adding: “Her ball-handling is really good for 6-2. It will have to go up for Stanford and the Pac-12, but she really has the ability to see the floor. You go to the next level and you will have better talent surrounding you. Stanford does a good job putting people in positions to be successful. … Her work ethic will really help her out.”
Moschkau religiously got up for 5:30 a.m. sessions to work on her basketball fundamentals, fitness and strength.
“I’m a very disciplined person,” said Moschkau, whose father and grandparents also went to Edgewood. “Hard work is all mental. If you put your mind to it, good things will happen.”
Moschkau and her teammates had a single-minded drive to win the state title after watching their opportunity disappear a year ago, and all the off-season work and extra hours each individual put in paid off.
“It is an amazing feeling, just knowing we took home the gold ball for the school, the community and coach Lora Staveness,” Moschkau said. “She deserves it more than anyone. I’m still kind of in shock that we won. It is a settling feeling. We are very content with it.”
Moschkau is humbled by the recognition she has received.
“I’m so grateful people would consider me for these honors,” she said. “I wouldn’t be here without coach Staveness, my teammates, my family and everyone who has helped me along the way. It’s a lot about others who have helped me.”
Moschkau’s journey will take her in June to Stanford. Moschkau, who plans to study business or philosophy, is eager to become part of Stanford’s basketball legacy.
“Their player development is so good,” she said. “Just being at Stanford, everyone has so much to offer. It’s such an uplifting experience. Being surrounded by excellence is something I’m glad to be around.”