Central boys basketball coach James Hyllberg didn’t think Jack Rose was going to get there Friday night.
Needing 23 points to break 1989 graduate Tim Cates’ program career scoring record of 1,265 points, Rose, a 6-foot-4 senior wing, had just five points at halftime in a Southern Lakes Conference game against Lake Geneva Badger in Paddock Lake.
Hyllberg joked that Rose had even missed an open fastbreak layup that somehow spun out of the basket in the first half, so it seemed destined for Rose to simply break Cates’ record another time, no problem.
“At halftime, I thought, ‘Well, he ain’t getting the record tonight,” Hyllberg said in a phone interview after the game.
But Rose wanted to set the record at home. So with back-to-back road games on tap for the Falcons after Friday, he got hot in the second half. Really hot.
Rose poured in 18 points in just 12 minutes after halftime, breaking Cates’ record on a 3-pointer with about 6 minutes left in the game, as Central cruised to a 73-44 victory to improve to 9-1 overall and stay atop the SLC at 6-0, a game ahead of Burlington.
“But as I’m not hitting my shots and I only have five (points), I’m going into the second half thinking, ‘We play away (Saturday). There’s no other option than to get this tonight and get it at home.’ So I just had the mentality that I need to score the ball, and that’s pretty much what happened.”
With 23 points total Friday, Rose left the game game with 1,266 for his Central career, one ahead of Cates now for the Falcons’ all-time program lead.
Rose was three points shy of the record when Central called a timeout, and Hyllberg drew up a set play for Rose that used a flare screen on the opposite side of the floor. That sprung him open for a 3-pointer, which he drilled to set the record.
In fact, Rose was fouled on the 3, too, but he missed the free throw to come up shy of completing the four-point play. No matter, though, because he had the record.
Rose said a friend of his and his friend’s mom made a sign with a running career point total for Rose that updated with each point he scored Friday up until he set the record. After the record-breaking shot, the ball was switched out and placed into a case after the game that was all ready to be filled.
“Obviously, an awesome feeling, but I couldn’t have done it without the teammates I’ve had throughout the years,” Rose said. “It was cool to share that moment with them on the court tonight, because I wouldn’t be here without them.”
Rose, who’s received NCAA Division I scholarship offers so far from George Washington, Maryland, UW-Milwaukee, SIU-Edwardsville and Toledo, according to WisSports.net, has had a remarkably consistent career with the Falcons.
He played in 25 varsity games as a freshman in 2018-19 for a team that was coming off an appearance in the WIAA Division-2 State Tournament. Rose averaged 7.2 points per game that season in scoring 181 points total, then he scored 421 as a sophomore (17.5 per game), 462 as a junior (21 per game) and this season has scored 202 in 10 games through Friday, an average of 20.2 per contest.
It was that varsity experience as a freshman, however, that proved to be so critical for Rose in breaking Cates’ record.
Fellow Central great Jaeden Zackery, who was a senior when Rose was a freshman and is now a freshman guard for the Boston College men’s basketball team, is third on the Falcons’ all-time scoring list with 1,250 points, just 15 behind Cates.
But Zackery played junior varsity his entire freshman year, so Rose started his career by racking up more varsity points than most freshmen ever do.
“That’s the key,” said Hyllberg, whose team also got 12 points from senior forward Kenny Garth and eight from junior forward Wyatt Anderson on Friday. “A lot of kids don’t play varsity as a freshman. And if they do play, they’re not scoring eight or nine points a game.”
And Rose also had great examples to help him find his way as a freshman.
“My freshman year, ‘J.Z.,’ Dylan (Anderson), they taught me a lot,” he said. “... It was awesome. They taught me a lot and got me ready for leading the team.”
As his high school career has progressed, Rose’s consistency has stemmed from his work ethic. He has a businesslike demeanor and never gets too high or low, at least outwardly.
“That’s the best thing I can say about him, is he’s genuine on and off the court,” Hyllberg said. “What you see is what you get. He doesn’t hype himself up, ever. He’s a winner and he plays hard, and he’s got a great attitude.
“I say that time and time again about Jack. Attitude makes or breaks a lot of kids. Any job you do in the world, attitude determines your success. And his attitude’s fantastic. To coach a kid like that makes it easy.”
And while the scoring record is nice, Rose has his sights set on leading the Falcons to much greater things, like back to the State Tournament. Ranked No. 7 in Division-2 in both the latest state coaches poll and the season’s inaugural Associated Press state poll, Central is seeking its fourth consecutive SLC title, meaning Rose has won it every season in high school.
This fall, Rose was named honorable mention All-State as an outside hitter in helping lead the Central boys volleyball team to a WIAA Division-1 state runner-up finish. He’s hoping to lead the Falcons to the same type of postseason success in his main sport now.
“He hates to lose,” Hyllberg said. “A lot of kids will say they hate to lose but just want to go out there and score points. But Jack would be happy scoring two points and winning a state championship.
“He’s got a killer instinct to him. When he gets down, he doesn’t hang his head. I think it just motivates him to play even harder. He elevates his teammates’ play as well, because he just plays so hard.”
Huge test at Pewaukee
And speaking of State Tournament aspirations, Central got a huge barometer in that regard with a non-conference road test Saturday at defending Division-2 state champion Pewaukee, ranked No. 2 in Divison-2 in both the coaches and AP polls.
That game, scheduled for 4 p.m. Saturday, ended too late to be included in Sunday’s edition of the News.
Pewaukee entered Saturday’s game at 7-2 overall, but the two losses came to Neenah, ranked No. 2 in Division-1, on Dec. 23 and to Wisconsin Lutheran, ranked No. 1 in Division-2, by a 101-99 score on Jan. 4 in what was probably the game of the year in the state so far.
The Pirates feature senior wing Josh Terrian, an NCAA Division II Michigan Tech commit who was the No. 21-ranked senior in the state by Wisconsin Basketball Yearbook entering the season, and 6-8 junior wing Milan Momcilovic, who was just ranked No. 1 among juniors in WBY’s updated player rankings and has an offer from Marquette, along with interest from fellow major Division I programs Iowa State and Minnesota.
Hyllberg pointed out that he’s seen Wisconsin men’s basketball coach Greg Gard attend Pewaukee’s games numerous times, obviously an indication of how much talent the Pirates possess.
“They’re the defending state champions,” Hyllberg said. “They don’t lose a whole lot. Our guys know what’s at stake, so we’ll kind of get a measuring stick of where we’re at (Saturday).”
Added Rose: “(Friday) night was great, but I’m already kind of getting past it. I’m ready for (Saturday). It’s probably going to be one of the best teams we’ve played all year.
“So play as a team, knock some shots down and just get stops, and I feel like we can come out with the upset.”
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Central senior wing Jack Rose goes up for a shot against Racine St. Catherine’s during a non-conference boys basketball game earlier this season at McGuire Gymnasium in Racine. In a 73-44 Southern Lakes Conference win over Lake Geneva Badger in Paddock Lake on Friday night, Rose scored 23 points to reach 1,266 for his career, breaking the program career scoring record set by 1989 graduate Tim Cates.