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MCDONALD'S CO-GAME OF THE WEEK (Boys Basketball): Boscobel 66, #7 Fennimore 65
Kolton Wallin hits six 3s, scores team-high 23 points in Bulldogs stunning upset of #7 Eagles
Boscobel players and fans celebrate the big 66–65 upset win over the #7-ranked Fennimore Golden Eagles at home last Thursday night.

BOYS BASKETBALL: Boscobel 66, #7 Fennimore 65

BOSCOBEL — The Boscobel boys’ basketball team had been steadily improving during the course of the season and had won three in a row, four of their last five games to improve their season record to 7-6. However, no one could have expected what took place last Thursday night in the Boscobel High School gym.

The Fennimore Golden Eagles came into the game as one of three SWAL teams occupying top ten spots in the Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association Division 4 rankings.  As of last Thursday, Cuba City held the #1 spot, Darlington #4, and Fennimore #7 with a 13-2 record.

The Bulldogs had lost earlier in the season to the Golden Eagles, by 19 points back on December 12, 40-59, in Fennimore.  Typical of the rivalry though, the gym was full and fans from both schools excited. As it turned out, the fans were treated to an incredibly exciting game, and an upset.

In their first match-up of the season, the Bulldogs got out to an early lead, but Fennimore cranked up their running game with guard Kellen Kenny crashing the boards and pushing the ball up the floor to create easy scoring opportunities for himself and his teammates.  Particularly benefiting from Kenny’s ball skills was the 6’ 9” Adam Larson, who got to the basket on the run for a pair of dunks, then for good measure got some clean looks from beyond the three-point arc as the trailer on the fast break.

In that contest, the Golden Eagles had established control of the game by halftime and went on to the relatively easy win.

On Thursday, Boscobel also got out to an early lead, but this time Fennimore was unable to find an answer as the Bulldogs seemed to match every effort the Golden Eagles made to fight their way back into the game.

Coaches’ strategies played a role in how the game unfolded.  Boscobel’s Levi Esters stressed keeping Kenny from getting into the lane and creating offense for others while forcing Adam Larson to give the ball up by double-teaming him as much as possible when he got the ball inside.

Kenny did hit a pair of three-pointers in the first half, but his path to the basket was consistently walled off by white jerseys.  Fennimore meanwhile chose to focus their defense on Bulldog senior swingman Jake Davidson, trying to limit his touches by face guarding him on the perimeter.  That left a path open to the basket, and the Bulldogs Mitchell Davis took full advantage early in the game, driving to the lane and either scoring or finding open shooters on the perimeter.

Davis scored ten points, created by his attacks to the basket, and as the perimeter game opened up, three-pointers began to fall for the Bulldogs.  Tarek Fischer hit a pair early in the game as the Bulldogs built a 17-10 lead in the first six minutes.  Then, senior guard Kolton Wallin got hot, leading a 14-2 run to give Boscobel a 31-12 advantage as the first period reached the midway point.

Wallin started the run with three from the left wing on a pass from Fischer. Fennimore responded with a short jump shot from Kenny, and then Wallin took over. First he hit from just left of the circle.  On the next possession, Fischer drove the baseline and kicked out to Wallin, to the right of the circle for another three.  After Davis sunk a pair of free throws, Wallin finished off the barrage when he nailed his fourth straight triple from deep on the left wing, over the outstretched hand of the 6’ 9” Larson.

The Golden Eagles gathered themselves and put together their own run, a 14-4 spurt, cutting the deficit to nine at 35-26 as the clock reached the two-minute mark in the first frame.  The run featured the skills of Larson and Kenny as they accounted for 12 of Fennimore’s points.

Bulldog Junior Rylee Bray attacked the lane for a basket and senior Daryen Heisz sank a free throw to build the lead to 12.  Meanwhile, the Boscobel defense tightened and held Fennimore scoreless the rest of the period.

Buzzer beater at the half

With the score 38-26, the Bulldogs took possession with 25 seconds in the half, and held the ball for a final shot of the half. With just three seconds Wallin launched a shot that hit the rim and bounced up, but the Bulldogs Amari Asamoah, filling in for Fischer due to fouls, swooped in from the right side, grabbed the rebound and banked in the put-back as the buzzer sounded to give Boscobel a 14-point lead, 40-26, at the intermission.  A bit of foreshadowing perhaps, as a shot with three seconds to go and a bounce off the rim would finish the game.

Foul issues played a role in the second half as two of the Bulldog’s primary ball handlers, Tarek Fischer and Mitch Davis, picked up their fourth fouls before the mid-way point of period number two. This forced other players to handle the ball more than usual on the open floor, and against increasing ball pressure from Fennimore.

The Golden Eagles forced several Bulldog turnovers and began to push their way back into the game, showing why they had achieved recognition in the state rankings.

After Tarek Fischer scored on a baseline drive to open the half, Fennimore began cutting into the Bulldog lead, fashioning a 14-7 run in the first eight minutes.

During the surge that cut the Bulldog lead to ten at 51-41, Wallin dropped in his sixth three-pointer of the night and Rylee Bray and senior Jake Davidson scored in the lane for Boscobel. As the second half reached the midway point, senior Daryen Heisz brought the Bulldog crowd to their feet when he got an entry pass on the right block from Wallin, spun, and slammed home a two-handed dunk to make the score 53-41.

However, during the Fennimore rally, both Fischer and Davis were forced to the bench with fouls and the Golden Eagles scored seven straight points to carve the Bulldog lead to five at 53-48 with just under eight minutes to play.

Amari Assamoah scored on a cut to the basket and a pass from Heisz in the low post to stop the run.  Davidson got open as Wallin penetrated the lane and found him for his only three-pointer of the evening, giving Boscobel a 58-50 cushion with seven minutes to play.

Fennimore once again made a push, however, reeling off a 7-2 run to close the gap to three at 60-57 as the game reached the four-minute mark.  Fennimore increased its pressure on the Bulldog guards, and Wallin and Fischer made their way to the foul line. The pair dropped in five of six foul shots, giving Boscobel a 65-59 lead with 2:50 to play.

The Golden Eagles once again rallied, and with 31.7 seconds left Kenney drove the lane and found a teammate for a score, tying the game at 65-65.  The Bulldogs took possession and at the 20-second mark, coach Levi Esters called a timeout to set up for the ending.  The play set up options for three different players as it progressed.

Wallin initiated the play from his point guard position. He then got the ball back on the right wing where he found a crease and drove to the basket, where he was fouled as his shot barely rolled off the rim.  The senior guard calmly went to the line with 3 seconds left on the clock, and sank the first free throw for a 66-65 lead.  Esters called his name and told him to miss the second shot.  Wallin, he said later, was not sure at first but Esters assured him that was what he wanted.

Incredible finish

The senior point guard then finished off his incredible night. With no other Bulldogs stationed on the free throw lane, but positioned back to defend, Wallin bounced the ball off the front of the rim. He then sliced in between two Fennimore players to grab the ball, which he quickly fired out to his teammate Tarek Fischer who held it as the clock ran out and the Boscobel crowd erupted over the 66-65 upset victory.

Wallin led the Bulldogs in scoring with 23 points, Davis finished with 12 and Fischer 10. Jake Davidson contributed 7 points to the effort, Bray 6, and Asamoah and Heisz had 4 each.  Fennimore’s Adam Larson led all scorers with 27 and Kellen Kenney had 20.

   The win improves the Bulldogs to 8-6 on the season, 4-5 in the SWAL.  Fennimore drops to 13-3, 6-3 in the SWAL. Boscobel’s schedule shows how brutal the SWAL can be, the team travels to Darlington (14-1) on Tuesday and then hosts Cuba City, who is currently 13-0 and the number one team in Division 4.

Boscobel 66, Fennimore 65
(from Thursday, Jan. 30 @ Boscobel)
Fennimore...26 39 —  65
Boscobel......40 26 —  66  
Fennimore (13–3, 6–3) — Warren Adam 9, Adam Larson 27, Brady Larson 2, Kellen Kenney 20, Jacob Young 7. Totals — 27-61 7-10 65.
Boscobel (8–6, 4–5) — Tarek Fisher 10, Kolton Wallin 23, Rilee Bray 6, Mitch Davis 12, Armari Asamoah 4, Jake Davidson 7, Daryen Heisz 4. Totals — 21 15-20 66.
3-point goals — 4-16 (A. Larson 2, Kenney 2). Team fouls — F:  19, B: 15. Fouled out — B: Davis.