WIAA Girls All-State Basketball Awards
MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Megan Van Tatenhove says she can't get the smile off her face.
And who could blame her?
Oostburg's senior center averaged 19 points and 8 rebounds per game this season, shooting a remarkable 73 percent from the field. She didn't have to spend any time worrying about where to go to college after deciding early on to play for St. Bonaventure.
And last weekend, she helped deliver the third -- and perhaps final -- career state championship for veteran Oostburg coach Tom DePagter with a 43-37 win over Markesan for the Division 3 title.
"It's been an awesome season," Van Tatenhove said. "Our team is like a family. I wouldn't trade any of my teammates for anyone."
After sweeping through this season undefeated at 27-0, Oostburg also swept the 2008 Associated Press girls basketball awards. A statewide media panel voted Van Tatenhove the player of the year and DePagter the coach of the year.
Joining Van Tatenhove on the first-team All-State squad were Rachael Hencke of Grafton, Destinee Blue of Division 1 state champion Milwaukee Vincent, Catie O'Leary of Janesville Parker and Taylor Wurtz of Ripon.
For DePagter, the coach of the year award could be a parting gift.
He is considering retirement, both as a coach and a middle school teacher, after spending nearly all his life in Oostburg and 24 years as coach of the Lady Dutch.
"I'm thinking about it, definitely," DePagter said. "And if this was the last team I ever coach, boy, how about it?"
DePagter is only the second girls basketball coach in his school's history, having returned to his hometown after attending college at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse and spending seven years as the junior varsity coach before taking over.
"He deserves it, for how long he's been here and how much he's coached, all his experience," Van Tatenhove said.
And while DePagter's Oostburg teams already had won a pair of state titles, he said this year's team stands out as special because of how well his players knew the game.
"It was a dream season," DePagter said. "These kids, their knowledge of the game, their basketball I.Q. was off the charts."
It also was the best shooting team DePagter ever has had, as Van Tatenhove was one of seven players who were capable of making 3-pointers.
But while Van Tatenhove can hit outside shots and pull-up jumpers, DePagter said she would just as soon drive to the basket to score.
"St. Bonaventure really got a player," DePagter said.
Bonnies coach Jim Crowley first saw Van Tatenhove play when he was scouting another player during an Amateur Athletic Union game. How could he miss her?
"This kid just keeps making plays," Crowley said.
Playing in the Atlantic 10 conference, St. Bonaventure faces a lot of big forwards -- and Crowley is trying to counteract their size by recruiting smaller, quicker forwards who can play on the perimeter.
After watching more of Van Tatenhove's games and getting to know her, Crowley decided she would be a great fit.
"She's outgoing, and she's OK with who she is," Crowley said. "There's a very quiet confidence to her that I think all great players have."
The feeling was mutual, as Van Tatenhove felt comfortable on the 2,400-student campus in southwestern New York state.
"I don't think I could handle going to a really big school," Van Tatenhove said. "It just feels like home."
But Van Tatenhove isn't quite ready to think about college yet. When she got back to school Monday, it didn't feel like the season was over.
"It hasn't really hit me yet," she said. "After we got the gold ball, it's like, 'It's Monday; no practice?' It'll probably hit me when softball starts."
With her future secure, Van Tatenhove wants to enjoy the rest of the school year with her friends -- and perhaps have a laugh or two at their expense.
Oostburg hosted a pep rally to celebrate its title Sunday, and Van Tatenhove had to give a short speech.
She decided to tell a funny story: While walking to breakfast at the team hotel with teammate Kara Menzel over the weekend, a conference room door swung open and smacked straight into Menzel.
No harm, no foul. But a few laughs, for sure.
"We were talking, and she was looking away," Van Tatenhove said. "I tried to grab her, but it was too late. You can't help but laugh."
The 2008 Associated Press Wisconsin girls basketball all-state team, as determined by a statewide media panel:
PLAYER OF THE YEAR
COACH OF THE YEAR
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)