EDITOR'S NOTE: The Swnews4u.com Athlete of the Week is a web-only feature that will publish each Thursday throughout the calendar year.
Noah Wand, Sr., G, Shullsburg boys basketball
Shullsburg senior Noah Wand made the biggest shot in school history last Saturday night to lift the Miners to their first state tournament appearance since 1991. With time running out, and Shullsburg just moments away from a season-ending loss, Wand’s off-balance 3-pointer over a Bangor defender found the bottom of the net to give the Miners a 59–58 lead with just 1.5 seconds remaining.
“I’ve been involved in a lot of last-second shots, but none of that magnitude,” said Shullsburg head coach Mark Lierman. “For Noah to be ready to shoulder the responsibility of whatever the outcome of the that shot was shows a great amount of maturity in him.
“People that know Noah know he can hit those type of shots,” added Lierman. “He practices those off-balanced threes in practice all the time. There are so many words I could use to describe the feelings after that shot. Euphoria and a general overwhelming feeling of happiness for that group of kids are wha best come to mind. It’s a moment none of these kids will forget.”
The original plan was to get the ball inside to 6-foot-9 senior center Joey Meyer, but Bangor doubled him. Wand picked up his dribble and was instantly swarmed by a Bangor defender, but had the presence of mind to let fly a potential go-ahead 3-pointer with enough time left for a rebound, should he miss. No rebound was needed.
The Cardinals committed a turnover on the ensuing possession and the Miners made 1 of 2 from the free throw line to score a 60–58 Division 5 sectional final victory.
Wand, who hit four other 3-pointers earlier in the game, finished with a co-team-high 17 points. Wand also scored 10 points two nights earlier in Shullsburg’s 68–63 D5 sectional semifinal victory over undefeated and second-ranked Seneca last Thursday night at Reedsburg.
Wand, a three-sport athlete who quarterbacked the Miners to the D7 football state championship last fall, will lead Shullsburg against top-ranked Chippewa Falls McDonnell Central (24–3) in a Division 5 state semifinal contest Friday at 9:05 a.m. at the Kohl Center in Madison.
HONORABLE MENTION (in alphabetical order):
Donovan Blevins, Jr., Platteville boys basketball
Blevins scored a team-high 15 points and grabbed six rebounds in Platteville’s 45–43 Division 3 sectional semifinal loss to Adams–Friendship last Thursday night at Richland Center High School. Blevins also helped hold senior Joe Duty, the Green Devils’ second leading scorer, to just seven points in the game. A week earlier, Blevins played a key role in Platteville’s 52–38 regional final victory over SWC champion Prairie du Chien on Saturday, March 4, with a game-high 16 points and 10 rebounds to lift the Hillmen to their first sectional appearance since 1997.
Ryan Glendenning, Sr., Darlington boys basketball
Glendenning made six straight free throws in the final 2:16 to close out Darlington’s 67–55 WIAA Division 4 Baraboo sectional final victory over Cochrane–Fountain City last Saturday helping the Redbirds clinch their first state tournament berth since 1990. Glendenning finished with 11 points. Two nights earlier he led the undefeated Redbirds with 15 points in a 73–59 D4 sectional semifinal victory over New Glarus.
Nick Payne, Sr., Senena boys basketball
Payne scored a game-high 21 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and held Shullsburg 6-foot-9 senior Joey Meyer to just 11 points in Seneca’s 68–63 WIAA Division 5 sectional semifinal loss last Thursday night at Reedsburg. Payne and the Indians finished the season 25–1.
Will Schwartz, Sr., G, Darlington boys basketball
The Redbirds’ leading scorer finished with a team-high 15 points, putting the finishing touches on Darlington’s 67–55 sectional final victory over Cochrane–Fountain City on Saturday with a steal and breakaway layup. Schwartz scored 14 points in Darlington’s sectional semifinal win over New Glarus two days earlier.