It’s a different group this season for Jeff Boos, but their destination remains the same.
The Chi-Hi graduate Boos has guided the Sun Prairie boys basketball team to the Division 1 state tournament for the second year in a row as the Cardinals open play on Friday evening as a three seed against second-seeded West Allis Central in the state semifinals.
Boos guided Sun Prairie to the state tournament for the first time last season but following graduations and the transfers of high-profile players Jalen Johnson and Kobe Johnson to Nicolet, the Cardinals entered the season needing to replace its top-three scorers.
The 24th-year Sun Prairie coach pointed to midseason wins over Madison Memorial and Minnesota powerhouse DeLaSalle as important building blocks on the team’s return to state.
“We’ve put a good season together,” Boos said. “It’s been one of those years where we started young and we’ve grown into becoming an experienced ballclub and I’m happy with the progress this team has made.”
Boos, son of the late Walter and Donna Boos, graduated from Chi-Hi in 1978 after playing for the Cardinals under coach Swede Swenson. He went on to graduate from Winona State University and coach at Altoona and Medford before settling in at Sun Prairie, where he was amassed more than 400 career coaching victories.
Senior guard Brock Voigt leads the team in scoring at 13.4 points per game while 6-foot-6 junior forward Delaware Hale is close behind at 12.2 points per contest. Sun Prairie took fourth in the Big Eight Conference standings but defeated Verona, Madison Memorial, Racine Horlick and Madison La Follette on the way to state. Boos said his team has bought into what his staff has taught and has been resilient all season long.
“That’s probably their trademark more than anything,” Boos said of his team’s resilience. “They’ve had their backs against the wall in a number of games and seem to come out on top. They find a way to get it done and I just think there’s that chippyness about this group and I think that identifies who they really are.”
The Cardinals face the Bulldogs (22-3) in the final game of the day on Friday and will look to advance to Saturday night’s state title game after falling in overtime in the semis last year to Brookfield East.
West Allis Central won the West Woodland Conference title during the regular season and features an athletic frontcourt that Boos said his Cardinals will need to keep out of the lane.
Boos’ sisters Mary Clark and Lisa Leahy will be among those making the trip down to Madison to see Boos’ squad in action this weekend.
The Cardinals resilience makes them equally comfortable in an offensive shootout or a grind-it-out defensive battle.
“I think we’re capable of playing both ways and I think that’s what makes this team a little unique,” Boos said. “If we get pressured and have to attack the rim, we can. If the defense is a little softer and we have to grind you a little bit, we can grind you. So I think we can go both ways and we’re pretty open to doing whatever it takes to put ourselves in a position to be successful and that’s what I like about our group.”