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There is not much mystery as to why John Diener took up the game of basketball.

When your father is one of the highest-profile basketball coaches in the state and is consistently taking home the gold ball in the WIAA Division 1 State Tournament, it is pretty easy to become involved in the game.

"I have been playing basketball for as long as I can remember," Diener said. "I think I started at 4 or 5 years old, and I was the manager for my dad's teams at Milwaukee Vincent and Hamilton."

Dad, of course, is Tom Diener, the owner of five WIAA state championships and more than 500 career victories, and the two Dieners teamed this season to bring the Cedarburg boys team a North Shore Conference championship and nearly a Division 2 state crown.

That success was partially because John turned out to be not just any basketball player, but one of the best in the state.

He averaged 22.6 points, 6.2 rebounds, 1.6 assists and one steal this season as well as providing floor leadership and clutch play.

Accolades coming

For all these accomplishments, John Diener is the 2016-17 Now Newspapers Player of the Year, and that is just one of the many honors he has received.

Diener was also named first-team all-state by the Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association and was the North Shore Conference Player of the Year.

"John was spectacular throughout the season," coach Tom Diener said. "He shot the ball extremely well, rebounded, defended and broke pressure with very few mistakes. He played hard and smart and was a great teammate, and that's why we were successful."

RELATED:Meet the 2016-17 Now Newspapers All-Suburban Boys Basketball Team

Teammate Jordan Johnson is also racking up the post-season accolades.

He is another member of the Now All-Suburban team after averaging 19 points, 3.6 rebounds, 1.8 assists and one steal this season.

Johnson was also honorable-mention all-state and made the all-North Shore first team.

"Jordan provided us with clutch shooting throughout the season," coach Diener said. "He shot a very high percent from the line (86 percent) and did well from the field (54 percent). Teams had a hard time keeping track of him and we were able to get him the ball in great spots all year, and he delivered."

Johnson and John Diener clearly both played large roles in the Bulldogs' successful season, one which they thoroughly enjoyed.

"This season is one I will never forget," Diener said. "I will share great memories with great teammates. We made a great playoff run. The games were all close, and with each one, we gained momentum and built our confidence.

"The games could have gone either way, but we had some mentally and physically tough guys on this team. No one practiced harder than we did."

Topped expectations

Diener said the season exceeded even his expectations.

"At the beginning, I didn't think we would be in the state championship game or anything," he said, "but with each game, I realized that we had a special group here. This was a team capable of special things."

He said the type of teamwork and camaraderie the Bulldogs enjoyed this season is exactly what he most appreciates about basketball.

"It is a team sport, and you work together toward a common goal," he said. "Basketball is a great experience and you build great relationships."

Diener will enter his senior year at Cedarburg knowing that graduation will claim much of the starting lineup, such as Clayton Van Tassel, Jared Short and Johnson.

"We will miss those seniors, but we have a good core group of guys back," he said. "Matt Barber will have a great year and guys like Victor Novy, Hunter Lewis and Patrick McKenzie gave us valuable minutes in the playoffs. We have built a culture at Cedarburg, and that should continue."

Diener will then play at DePaul University in Chicago.

"I thought there couldn't be a better fit for me," said Diener, who is interested in medical school. "My cousin Drake played there, the Big East is a great conference and this gives me a chance to play at the highest level."

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