GAME OF THE WEEK (Dec. 26–Jan. 2)
BOYS BASKETBALL: Shullsburg 63, #7 Southwestern 50
BENTON — The fifth time continued to be the charm as Shullsburg not only captured their fifth straight Mike Alexander Christmas Classic title but also exact a bit of revenge to get the job done.
The Miners (7-2 overall) avenged a season-opening loss to Southwestern by knocking off the Division 5 #7-ranked Wildcats (7-2), 63-50, in the championship game of the Mike Alexander Christmas Classic held at Benton High School on Friday, Dec. 28.
"That was a lot of fun. The atmosphere was awesome. It was loud and hard to hear yourself think. We knew it was going to be a tough game. We lost to them already this year, so we were excited to get another chance at them," said Shullsburg head coach Luke Tyson, referring to their 55-44 loss to the Wildcats in their season opener. "We have improved a lot since that first game, and I thought we played pretty well tonight."
Shullsburg closed the first half on a 9-2 run to build up a 27-15 halftime lead on the Cats.
Senior Dylan Rieken sank a pair of 3-pointers to shoot Southwestern back within seven early in the second half, but Shullsburg sophomore Brandon Hoppman struck back with eight straight points to put the Miners ahead 40-25 with 11:53 to play.
Rieken continued to hit shot from the field and the foul line to keep the Wildcats in the game. His three-point play with seven minutes remaining trimmed Shullsburg's lead back to single digits and his third 3-pointer of the half sparked a 7-0 run that brought the Cats back within four at 50-46 with 3:26 to go.
The Miners put the game away at the free throw line down the stretch as they buried 11 of their 12 foul shots in the final two minutes, 42 seconds to shoot down the Cats. Shullsburg went 22-of-28 from the stripe for the game.
Senior Jacob Berendes went 6-for-6 at the line and finished with 13 points for the Miners. Senior Joseph Turpin came off the bench to score nine of his career-high 13 points in the second half, while B. Hoppman added 10 of his career-high matching 12 points in the second half as well.
Senior Nolan Strang also matched his career-high after knocking down two 3-pointers off the bench in the first half on his way to an eight-point night for the Miners, who posted their seventh straight win after starting the season 0-2.
"We rebounded better and made more shots this game than in the opener. That was the main thing," Tyson noted.
Rieken scored all 20 of his game-high points in the second half to pace the Wildcats, who derailed the host Zephyrs, 54-45, in a semifinal game on Thursday, Dec. 27, to punch their ticket into the title game.
Shaun Cooper scored nine points and Grant Jochum chipped in with six for Southwestern.
"We ran a 1-3-1 zone defense most of the game and I think that threw them off a little bit because they like to run transition offense. Our zone slowed them down a bit," commented Tyson.
The Miners advance to the title game by defeating the Scales Mound Hornets, 72-59, in the tournament opener on Thursday evening.
Berendes and senior Griffin Wiegel combined for 23 first-half points to lift Shullsburg out to a 39-34 halftime lead, and the Miners went on to outscore the Hornets 33-25 in the second half to lock down a 13-point victory.
Berendes finished with a team-high 19 points, while senior Alex Wand added 13 points and Wiegel netted 12 points for the Miners. Senior Kyle Klotz sank two treys on the way to eight points.
The Miners (4-0 SRW) will host Potosi (4-1, 2-0) in a Battle of Six Rivers West unbeatens on Thursday, Jan. 3, and then host Six Rivers East leading Black Hawk (3-5) in a non-conference clash at SHS on Saturday, Jan. 5, at 7:30 p.m.
Also, the Miners have a SRW contest at Belmont (1-5, 0-3) on Tuesday, Jan. 8.
Shullsburg…….. 27 36 – 61
Southwestern… 15 35 – 50
Shullsburg – Jacob Berendes 13, Alex Wand 2, Noland Strang 8, Joseph Turpin 13, Dylan Heim 2, Griffin Wiegel 3, Kyle Klotz 6, Oscar Ortiz 2, Brandon Hoppman 12, Isaac Hoppman 2. Totals – 18 22-28 61.
Southwestern – Preston Pearce 4, Brecklin Schneider 6, Tytan Kephart 2, Justin Wilson 3, Grant Jochum 6,Shaun Cooper 9, Dylan Rieken 20. Totals – 15 16-20 50.
3-point goals – SH 5 (Strang 2, Turpin 1, Klotz 1, B. Hoppman 1), SW 4 (Pearce 1, Rieken 3). Total fouls – SH 18, SW 20. Fouled out – SW: Splinter.