Athlete of the Week: Chaz Mootz, Merrill - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Athlete of the Week: Chaz Mootz, Merrill

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MERRILL (WAOW) -- After a second-place finish in the Wisconsin Valley this season, the Merrill boys basketball team is now poised for a postseason run. And their team leader is already picking up postseason awards.

"There was no question who was going to lead our team this season," Merrill coach Kurt Soderberg said. "And it was Chaz."

Chaz Mootz is the unquestioned leader for Merrill. The senior averaged nearly 17 points per game this season, and also led the conference in rebounding him. Those stats earned him unanimous first-team Wisconsin Valley honors.

"It's a nice little pat on the back, but I'm sure if you asked him, he would tell you that he would trade that in any day for a trip down to Madison," Soderberg said.

While the individual accolades are nice, Mootz says they fade in comparison to the Bluejays making a deep postseason run.

"It's nice getting individual awards, but we want team plaques and we want to do work in the postseason," Mootz told Newsline 9. "That's what means more to me."

The Bluejays last made the state tournament in 2011, when Mootz was in eighth grade. After taking second place in a conference featuring some of the best Division 1 teams in the state, the Bluejays start their postseason this Friday as a number one seed in the Division 2 bracket.

"Taking second in conference gives us some momentum about ourselves coming into the playoffs," Mootz said. "Knowing that if we can hang with the D1 teams in the Valley we can just as well play with the D2 teams in the postseason."

As he enters his final round with the Bluejays, Mootz says he knows a lot of the pressure to perform lies on him. But that doesn't mean he'll change his style of play.

"Everything we do starts and ends with Chaz, but he's not the only player," Soderberg said. "We've got good size. We've got quick kids, we've got long kids."

But one thing Mootz can bring to the table, much like all seniors, is his experience.

"I can't just be a one man show because we need guys to help out, but what really helps is the experience I've gathered the last couple of years," he said. "Unlike some of the other guys who are new here, I kind of know how it goes and the pressure and everything. So I think it'll be a lot easier this year."

Merrill hosts conference foe Wausau East in a regional semifinal matchup on Friday.

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