It was a special night on Jan. 26. That was the evening that White Lake’s Braden Fredrick turned in an unforgettable 54-point performance in a win over Phelps.
Not only did Fredrick score 54 points, but he added 16 rebounds and 10 assists to finish with a triple-double, a night that one could argue was the best single game performance ever by a White Lake basketball player.
It also brought back memories of another special night in Laker lore. What sports fans outside of White Lake may not immediately realize, is Fredrick’s 54 points did not break the school’s single game scoring mark, which still stands just over 20 years later.
On a December night in 2000, J.J. Maule, son of then head coach George Maule, put up an amazing 56 points, also coming against Phelps.
The scorebook reads like a shooter’s dream. Maule was successful on 12-of-13 three point attempts, 9-of-13 two-point shots and converted both his free throws.
“I remember just everything was going in,” J.J. recalled. “It was surreal. It seemed like shots I wasn’t even using good form were dropping. I came up a couple times from three-or-four feet behind the three-point line and threw it up and made it. My dad would usually have killed me for shots like that, but luckily they were going in.”
Checking in at six-foot-two with a 39 ½ inch vertical jump certainly helped matters not just that night, but throughout his high school career.
“The teams we played he was open because he could just jump over people,” George noted. “He could shoot almost anytime he had the ball and his jump shot was always at the top of his jump. You don’t see that at the small high school level. That allowed him to score in situations where others couldn’t.”
Unlike the Fredrick game, the contest itself was also close. Despite Maule’s outstanding shooting, his team entered the fourth quarter trailing by a point, 52-51, before rallying for a 68-64 win.
“We were playing with two freshman guards that season, the Wickersheim cousins,” George recalled. “It was only the third game of the season and they were reluctant to shoot. At halftime, we were tied and we knew J.J. had scored almost all the points. I told the guys let’s run some different plays on offense and Shawn Wickersheim says ‘why don’t we keep running the same play until J.J. misses’.”
They did...and he simply didn’t miss.
“So we just kept going,” George explained. “We won the game by only four and the Phelps coach came up to us after and asked how many points do you think J.J. had? I looked at J.J. and said, what do you think? 40?”
J.J. agreed, maybe 40.
56 was the answer.
“We were shocked,” George said. “We were just too busy trying to win the game to think about it.”
“It was such a close game I didn’t even realize I had that many points,” J.J. said. “We were so focused on trying to win nobody seemed to know I was scoring that many.”
J.J. Maule was a junior that season for White Lake and finished atop the state scoring leaders at just over 30 points-per-game. His individual senior campaign was even better, as he averaged a shade above 33 points-a-contest, all while playing for his dad.
It was a fun and a unique coach and athlete relationship, that also doubled as father and son.
“It was tough,” J.J. said. “As a coaches’ son, he didn’t let me get by with anything. He never sung my praises back then which was good, I remember going home after the 56-point game and he says ‘I can’t believe you missed that one three.’ He was always looking for perfection, which was great.”
“It was very difficult,” George joked. “We spent a lot of nights watching ‘The Princess Bride’ after practices so we could find something to laugh about. It was hard, he’s a sharp-minded kid and wasn’t always interested in improving. Football was actually his game. It was tough not because of him, but because of the father-son relationship. I was his teacher, his coach and then he had to go home with me too, so it was probably harder on him.”
J.J. also starred on not only the football field, but the baseball diamond as well. But he agreed that football was indeed his favorite game.
“Football was my favorite,” J.J. noted. “My dad said baseball was my best sport, but I loved football.”
“I think what he liked about football was he wasn’t as well known,” George said. “He was never one to want to be in the spotlight.”
Accolades came in all three sports for J.J., and while there are many examples of great athletes to have come out of White Lake, including several at the professional level where Bob Jesperson comes to mind, who spent a number of years playing baseball in the Cincinnati Reds organization, there may not have been a better three-sport athlete.
“He was at a time when he played with younger players and they relied on him,” George explained. “It gave him an opportunity to pile up a lot of stats.”
“We had a young team that year,” J.J. said. “It was a lot of fun, good high school classmates.”
And his dad has seen many players come through the ranks, after spending 46 years as a teacher and coach, not just at White Lake, but at Elcho, Winneconne and Wabeno.
His is currently on the White Lake girls staff and is back full-time in the math department.
George has coached not only boys and girls basketball, but volleyball, football and baseball.
J.J. meanwhile, is living in Indianapolis where he runs a division for a construction company.
He is married with four children, ranging in age from 2 months to a 16-year-old stepson, who of course, plays basketball.
And while life may have gotten in the way of perhaps athletic opportunities at the collegiate level, J.J. wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I’m living the American dream,” he says. “It’s been great.”
Although he’s enjoyed having the record, he knows someone will eventually take it down.
“Braden Fredrick’s performance was great,” J.J. added. “I looked at his stat line with his triple-double, rebounding, assists, all-around I think it was a better performance. I hope someone breaks it, it was fun back then, but I hope somebody gets there.”
And someone will, but for now it’s fun to think back on a night where one Laker simply couldn’t miss.