GAME OF THE WEEK (March 9–15)
BOYS BASKETBALL: WIAA sectional semifinals, Thursday, March 9, 7 p.m.
Division 5: #1 Seneca (24–0) vs. #2 Shullsburg (23–3), at Reedsburg, KIYX (106.1 FM)
Shullsburg’s talented senior class will have one last sectional run. Seventh-ranked Shullsburg earned a rematch with undefeated Seneca, which ended the Miners’ season a year ago, with a gritty 55–51 victory over Six Rivers West rival Highland in last Saturday’s regional final. Senior guard Hunter Matye dropped in 18 of his game-high 24 points in the second half, including a 9-of-10 performance from the foul line. Seniors Noah Wand finished with 17 points and senior Joey Meyer added 10 in the win.
“I am very proud of this team for winning the regional title,” said Shullsburg head coach Mark Lierman after leading his Miners to their second regional crown over the past three seasons. “Winning championships of any kind are difficult, but our men stuck together to get it done “The key to pulling out this victory was our ability to maintain our poise. Highland gave us their best shot, but we didn’t flinch. That’s a sign of a mature team who can count on their teammates at all times.”
Shullsburg advances to sectional play where they will meet #2-ranked Seneca (24-0) in a D5 sectional semifinal contest at Reedsburg High School on Thursday night at 7 p.m.
“Obviously, Seneca is a very good team. When you get to this point, every team remaining is there for a reason. We just have to ‘lace em’ up’ and go play,” commented Lierman, whose team fell to the Indians, 64–54, in last year’s regional championship game.
Six-foot-5 senior Nick Payne averages a double–double of 16.9 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Indians. Sophomore Jared Payne averages 14.5 points, 8.6 rebounds and 6.5 assists per game. Noah Allen (13.2 ppg), Gavin Greene (12.4) and Thomas Johnson (10.2) also score in double figures for Seneca.
EDIT: Shullsburg defeated second-ranked Seneca 68–63 and advances to face fifth-ranked Bangor (25–1) in Saturday night's La Crosse Logan sectional final at 7 p.m.
Division 4: #1 Darlington (24–0) vs. #2 New Glarus (20–4), at Evansville, WGLR (97.7 FM)
Second-ranked Darlington advanced to sectionals for a second straight year by defeating SWAL rival Mineral Point for a third time this year, 53–38, in last Saturday’s WIAA Division 4 regional final.
“I thought it went really well,” said Darlington head coach Tom Uppena. “We had one heck of a game plan. Our goal was to hold them offensively. We were not satisfied (with our defense) the last time we played them. We wanted to come out and control the game with the defense. I thought our kids played their butts off. They did a great job.”
Senior guard Ryan Glendenning scored a team-high 14 points, and he added several assists in the transition game to help lead the ‘Birds to victory. Senior Chad Golackson chipped in with nine points, and fellow seniors Will Schwartz and Josh Soper tallied eight points apiece for the winners.
“Offensively, there were some struggles, but we made the plays we needed to and we made the free throws when we needed to. I’m proud of the guys for their effort,” said Uppena.
Darlington advances to sectional play where they will meet ninth-ranked New Glarus (20-4) in a D4 sectional semifinal contest at Evansville High School on Thursday night at 7 p.m. The Redbirds defeated the Glarner Knights 71–55 in New Glarus back on Jan. 3. The Knights have won 15 of 16 games since that loss while averaging 77 points per game. Sophomore guard Jared Kreklow averages a team-best 19.3 points per game and junior forward Cullen Brooks averages 18.8 points per game to lead New Glarus.
EDIT: Second-ranked Darlington defeated New Glarus 73–59 and advances to face fifth-ranked Cochrane–Fountain City (24–1) in the Baraboo sectional final Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m.
Division 3: #4 Platteville (18–6) vs. #2 Adams–Friendship (20–3), at Richland Center, WPVL (107.1 FM)
Platteville will play in its first sectional boys basketball team since 1997 tonight when the Hillmen face South Central Conference champion Adams–Friendship in a Division 3 sectional semifinal at Richland Center High School.
The fourth-seeded Hillmen earned their first sectional berth in two decades with a 52–38 upset of top-seeded and fourth-ranked Prairie du Chien in Saturday night’s D3 regional final at Prairie du Chien High.
“It has been a long drought, so for us and to be able to go on the road and win a championship game against such a well-coached team like Prairie Du Chien, really says a lot about our kids,” said Platteville head coach Mike Huser. “Prairie du Chien has been the standard in our league for a long time, but our guys were tremendous the whole night, but it was really indicative of how they have prepared all season. To see them able to raise the championship plaque after the game was really special and our crowd was absolutely outstanding. It was a great night to be a part of the Hillmen Nation. I am extremely happy for all the current players and coaches as well as former players and coaches and everyone that has put in a tremendous amount of time to make this happen.”
Platteville held Prairie du Chien to just 30.2 percent (13-for-43) from the field, including just 2 of 21 from 3-point land, just one night after the Blackhawks drained 13 triples in a 69–42 regional semifinal victory over Richland Center.
Junior Donovan Blevins scored a team-high 16 points, while senior Dillon Shinee and Braden Nies added 15 and 13 points respectively to lead the Hillmen.
“Adams–Friendship is a really good team with good players, but as we told our guys at this level every team has good players so you can’t get caught up in statistics,” said Huser. “This time of year the teams that execute their schemes the best will move on. Adams–Friendship is traditionally a 1–3–1 zone program, but this year they are playing more 2–3 zone and are very well coached to play to their schemes. This will be an intriguing matchup because it is an uncommon opponent and one we are really excited about participating in.”
Senior Donnell Kelly leads the Green Devils in scoring at 19.3 points per game. Senior guard Joe Duty averages 14.8 points, 5.5 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game.
EDIT: Adams–Friendship defeated Plattevile 45–43 when Platteville's potential game-winning 3-pointer rimmed out at the buzzer and advances to face third-ranked Lake Mills (23–2) in the Waunakee sectional final Saturday night at Waunakee at 7 p.m.