MCDONALD'S SWNEWS4U.COM CO-GAME OF THE WEEK (Feb. 18–25)
BOYS BASKETBALL: #1 Cuba City 79, #4 Darlington 69
DARLINGTON — Cuba City was not in a sharing mood on Friday night.
The Division 4 #1-ranked Cubans locked up the SWAL boys’ basketball title outright by defeating the D4 #4-ranked Darlington Redbirds, 79-69, in front of a standing-room only crowd at DHS on Friday, Feb. 21.
The Cubans (21-0 overall, 13-0 SWAL) got a combined 26 first-half points from juniors Brayden Dailey and Jack Misky to build up a 38-27 halftime lead, and then used a 19-for-23 effort at the free throw line in the second half to hold off the Redbirds (19-2, 11-2) and claim their first SWAL championship title since the 2012-13.
“Darlington’s got a good basketball team, but we have a pretty good team as well. I’m happy to come away with a win in a tough environment here,” said Cuba City head coach Jerry Petitgoue after earning the Cubans’ 18th SWAL title since 1989 and the 29th conference title in his 49th season with the program. “We were in foul trouble tonight, but we fought through it. I was proud of how we overcame it.”
Misky scored the first five points of the to give the Cubans a lead they would never lose, and netted the team’s first nine points to lift them out to a 9-6 lead. The ‘Birds got as close as 9-8 on a basket by junior guard Easton Evenstad, but back-to-back putbacks by Dailey and Misky and a pair of baskets by senior Brady Olson pushed the Cubans’ lead back to seven.
An old-fashioned three-point play by junior Carter Lancaster brought the ‘Birds back within 17-14 with 8:39 to play in the half, however the Cubans used a 15-4 run to open up a 32-18 advantage.
Dailey tallied two more putbacks and his second dunk of the half to put the Cubans ahead by 15, but free throws by junior Cayden Rankin and Lancaster in the final 88 seconds made the halftime score 38-27 in the Cubans’ favor.
“We can hurt you in so many ways offensively. I thought that was key for us tonight,” Petitgoue admitted.
Rankin brought the ‘Birds back within 43-35 on a 3-pointer with 13:42 remaining in the game. The Cubans answered back with a 19-9 scoring run to go up 61-44, and then went 13-for-13 at the foul line over the final 7:06 to seal the victory with their first win at Darlington in six years.
Cuba City finished 20-of-24 at the line, and Darlington connected on 18-of-22 free throw attempts.
“They are all good foul shooters. We’re confident when they go to the line,” stated Petitgoue.
Dailey finished with a game-high 29 points to go along with 11 rebounds, three assists and three blocked shots to lead the Cubans. Olson went 10-of-12 from the foul line on the way to 19 points and he added seven assists and three steals, while Misky tallied 17 points, seven rebounds, two steals and two blocks and senior Jackson Noll chipped in with 12 points and three assists.
Lancaster poured in a season-high 28 points to also match his career-high offensive showing, while adding six rebounds and two assists.
Evenstad scored nine of his 11 points in the first half to keep the hosts on the Cubans’ heels, and Rankin netted 13 of his 15 points in the second half to try and rally the Redbirds from behind. Evenstad added two steals, and Rankin had two assists. Sophomore Hunter Hardyman had two assists and a blocked shot for the ‘Birds.
Darlington began the week by defeating Shullsburg, 77-53, in a non-conference contest at home for their eighth consecutive victory.
On Senior Night, senior center Ross Stauffacher poured in a career-high 21 points and senior guard Michael Riley scored a career-best 10 points for the Redbirds.
Carter Lancaster added 16 points and Cayden Rankin chipped in with 13 to give the ‘Birds four players in double figures.
Junior Chandler Kelly went off for a game-high 24 points to lead the Miners (11-9). Junior Brandon Hoppman added 10 points, and junior Russell Hauser netted a career-high eight points for Shullsburg.
The Redbirds will complete the regular season with a SWAL game at Mineral Point (11-9, 9-4) on Thursday, Feb. 27.
“We can’t have a letdown against Mineral Point. Even though it’s not for a conference title anymore, it’s still for bragging rights,” Uppena explained. “We want to come out and play well, and then head into the post-season on a good note.”
The WIAA Division 4 tournament will begin on Tuesday, March 3. Darlington received the #2-seed in their regional bracket and receives an opening round bye. The Redbirds will begin the playoffs by hosting the winner of Tuesday’s quarterfinal game between #7 Belleville (13-7) and #10 Necedah (13-7) in a regional semifinal contest at DHS on Friday, March 6, starting at 7 p.m.
The Cubans finish off the regular season with a SWAL game at Riverdale (2-18, 0-13) on Thursday, Feb. 27.
The WIAA Division 4 tournament will begin on Tuesday, March 3. Cuba City received the #1-seed in their regional bracket and receives an opening round bye. The Cubans will begin the playoffs by hosting the winner of Tuesday’s quarterfinal game between #8 Lancaster (12-9) and #9 Boscobel (10-11) in a regional semifinal contest at DHS on Friday, March 6, starting at 7 p.m.
Cuba City….. 38 41 – 79
Darlington…. 27 42 – 69
Cuba City – Riley Richard 2, Jackson Noll 12, Jack Misky 17, Brayden Dailey 29, Brady Olson 19. Totals – 27 20-24 79.
Darlington– Cayden Rankin 15, Carter Lancaster 28, Curtis Stone 6, Hunter Hardyman 4, Easton Evenstad 11, Parker Fitzsimons 1, Ross Stauffacher 4. Totals – 22 18-22 69.
3-point goals– CC 5 (Noll 2, Misky 2, Olson 1), D 7 (Rankin 3, Lancaster 2, Stone 1, Evenstad 1). Total fouls– CC 19, D 19. Fouled out– None.