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Senior center's near perfect game leads Hillmen to D3 sectional finals
Platteville senior Zach McClain scored a career-high 29 points on 13 of 14 from the field, grabbed 17 rebounds, blocked two shots and altered a handful of others to lead Platteville to an 84–67 victory over Wisconsin Dells (20–7) Thursday, March 7 at Dodgeville High School. - photo by Jason Nihles

EDITOR'S NOTE: The Athlete of the Week is a web-only feature that will publish each Thursday throughout the calendar year.

By Jason Nihles, The Platteville Journal

Zach McClain, Sr., C, Platteville boys basketball
DODGEVILLE — Last Thursday night’s WIAA Division 3 sectional semifinal was senior Zach McClain’s turn to shine.

The 6-foot-9 senior center scored a career-high 29 points  on 13 of 14 from the field, grabbed 17 rebounds, blocked two shots and altered a handful of others to lead Platteville to an 84–67 victory over Wisconsin Dells (20–7) Thursday at Dodgeville High School.

The Hillmen (24–3) raced out to an 11–0 lead just three minutes into the game. The Chiefs battled back to take a 22–20 lead with seven minutes left in the first half, but Edge hit his fourth 3-pointer of the half, and the McClain continued to destroy the inside of the Dells’ 3–2 zone as the Hillmen built a 39–34 halftime advantage.

“We knew it was a possibility that Zach could have a big game on offense against their zone defense,” said Hillmen head coach, who collected his 200th career victory with Thursday night’s win. “We felt if we could get the ball into the paint either by driving the ball or with post touches it would be to our benefit and Zach had a huge night.  

“I thought our guards did a good job of recognizing that and made the extra pass to get Zach the ball in great spots. He did a fantastic of finishing around the rim and sealing to get position.  He was outstanding, not just on offense, but challenging guys at the rim on defense and then rebounding the ball at a very high level.”

Edge was equally excellent with 23 points (5 of 6 on 3-pointers), 11 assists and four rebounds.

The Hillmen (24–4) went on to end their season two days later with a 75–71 loss #5-ranked Lakeside Lutheran (26–2) in a D3 sectional final at Wisconsin Dells High School. McClain had another big game with 14 points, 13 rebounds, three assists and three blocks in the season-ending defeat.

HONORABLE MENTION (in alphabetical order):
Ashley Rowe, Sr., G, Cuba City girls basketball
Rowe averaged 11 points, 5.5 rebounds, 2 steals in in the Cubans' two WIAA state tournament games last week. Rowe finished with 11 points, 6 rebounds and 3 steals and scored the go-ahead layup with four seconds left in last Thursday's 48–45 D4 state semifinal win over Chippewa Falls McDonell Central. Rowe then had 11 points, 5 rebounds and 3 assists in Saturday's 47–44 state championship game loss to Laconia (27–2). The SWAL champion Cubans finished the year 25–5 overall.

Garrison Tashner, Sr., PG, Platteville boys basketball
Tashner played a key role in Platteville's journey to the D3 sectional finals last week. Tashner finished with 13 points, eight rebounds and six assists in last Thursday's 84–67 sectional semifinal over Wisconsin Dells at Dodgeville High School, then made 3 of 5 3-point attempts and scored a team-high 17 points, to go along with four assists, three rebounds and one steal in Saturday's sectional final loss to #5-ranked Lakeside Lutheran (26–2).

Landon Thousand, Sr., PG, Mineral Point boys basketball
Thousand posted 17 points, seven assists, six rebounds and two steals in a 68–57 sectional final victory over Randolph last Saturday to lead the Pointers (26–2) to a berth in the WIAA Division 4 state tournament this weekend.