Rockford Lutheran basketball star Zach Derus named second-team All-State

Matt Trowbridge
Rockford Register Star
Rockford Lutheran senior point guard Zach Derus, shown shooting a floater against Rockford Christian, was voted second-team All-State in Class 2A by The Associated Press.

Zach Derus did not start at the beginning of his sophomore season for Rockford Lutheran. “But a third of the way through the year, I thought, ‘Man, this kid can play.’ We haven’t looked back. He’s been our starting point guard ever since,” Lutheran boys basketball coach Tom Guse said.

The whole state recognizes that Derus can play. He was named second-team All-State by The Associated Press in Class 2A. Derus drew 42 points from a statewide panel of media voters, where players get five points for a first-place vote and three for a second. He missed the five-player first team by only three points.

Derus was the only local player named All-State in Class 1A or 2A, although Eastland junior guard Kellen Henze made honorable mention in 1A. Henze averaged 21.8 points, 8.4 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 3.1 steals for the Cougars.

Declan Schemmel, a senior guard from NUIC West champ East Dubuque, also made honorable mention in 1A.

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Derus, a 5-foot-10 senior, averaged 17 points and five assists for No. 1-ranked Lutheran (16-0).

“We had a lot of games where he didn’t play a whole lot of minutes because we had numerous running clocks where he may have only played two quarters,” Guse said.

“Zach can really shoot the ball, and as a point guard he took care of the basketball. But his competitiveness is his best attribute. He just hates to lose. If we needed him to guard the toughest guy, he would do that. He’d also go in and rebound even though he isn’t that big.”

Lutheran finished the season as the unanimous No. 1 team in the AP poll, which meant even more than usual this year with the playoffs being called off because of COVID-19.

“It’s always kind of cool to be on the list of ranked teams, but this year that was really the only carrot that was dangling in front of us,” Guse said. “Once we got that No. 1 ranking, we said, ‘Let’s not give it up.’ But it was very bittersweet not being able to move on in a real state tournament.”

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Matt Trowbridge:; @matttrowbridge