MADISON — An emotional day for coaching brothers Jeff Gard of UW–Platteville and Greg Gard of Wisconsin ended with heart-warming opportunity.
In a game honoring their late father, Glen Gard of Cobb, Greg's Division 1 Badgers defeated Jeff's Division 3 Pioneers 86–58 in an exhibition game Sunday afternoon at the Kohl Center.
The Pioneers hung tough for the first 20 minutes, but the Badgers size advantage and overall depth eventually wore down the visiting smaller school.
Senior point guard Bronson Koenig scored all 12 of his points in the first half to lead Wisconsin. Senior forward Nigel Hayes added 10 points and five rebounds and junior guard Jordan Hill added 10 points off the bench.
Wisconsin led by 10 at the break (44–34), but outscored the Pioneers 42–24 in the second half to pull away.
Senior guard Trey Sigel (Rock Island, Ill.) scored 12 points to lead UW–Platteville, which opens its regular season Nov. 15 at home against Luther College.
The Badgers' bench outscored the Platteville reserves 46–19 in the game, but the real victory for the Gard brothers came from doing something positive on the one-year anniversary of their father's death.
Sunday's exhibition served as Brain Cancer Awareness Game and fans in attendance received a free wristband honoring the event.
Glen Gard died last fall of glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), a rare form of brain cancer at the age of 72. Greg began looking at possible dates to schedule the exhibtion with UW–Platteville and every thing pointed toward playing on Oct. 30.
Prior to Sunday's game, the Gard brothers attended mass in Highland to celebrate their father before bringing their teams together for Sunday's special game.
"I told the guys in the locker room afterwards that win or lose today this program won," said Jeff Gard. "Just being on the stage we were on and making an impact on others' lives. Greg and I talked about that from Day 1. It's funny, I saw a comment on Facebook that the best thing that could happen would be a tie. But if you know Greg and I, we wouldn't let that happen. We probably would go play one-on-one somewhere to settle it. But this was a win for this program and for the state as far as what we were able to get done today."