NOTE: The Elite 8 (Regional Final) results of the SWNews4U.com SW Wisconsin Boys Dream Tournament were published in the Grant County Herald Independent, The Platteville Journal, Fennimore Times, Republican Journal, Tri-County Press and the Richland Observer June 3-4. Final Four and Championship results will be published in the same area newspapers June 10-11.
1) 1995 Cassville 89, 7) 2020 Cuba City 67
PLATTEVILLE — Sam Okey set the stage with a thunderous back-door alley oop dunk to open Cassville’s West Regional final contest against the 2020 Cuba City Cubans, who had no answer for the big fella.
After winning the opening tip, Okey took a back-door alley-oop from teammate Scott Uppena at the top of the key and slammed it over the Cuban defense to rattle the backboard.
The 1995 McDonald’s All-American and Wisconsin Badger recruit proved to be unstoppable, finishing with a game-high 38 points, 16 rebounds and eight blocked shots in three and a half quarters of action to lead the victorious Comets (31–0) in a regional final played at UW–Platteville’s Williams Fieldhouse.
Cuba City coach Jerry Petitgoue implemented both a 2–3 zone defense and a box-and-one in an effort to slow down the Cassville star, but while Okey proved to be unstoppable, he also got significant help from his teammates.
Junior Tim Ackerman also came up big for the Comets, finishing with 20 points and six rebounds, while senior Scott Uppena chipped in 14 points and had 11 assists. Fellow senior guard John Koopman added eight points and four rebounds, while junior Todd Ackerman chipped in six points and three rebounds.
Coach Petigoue’s Cubans (29–1) were playing catch up from the start, and trailed the Comets 25–16 after one quarter of play and 52–35 at the half.
To start the fourth quarter, coach Dennis Uppena’s Comets held a comfortable lead of 71–53, and when Okey took to the bench with six minutes to play, Cassville was well out front, 78–57.
The Cubans got a team-high 18 points from senior point Brady Olson, who also had five rebounds and six assists, while junior forward Brayden Dailey (a Division 1 recruit himself) chipped in 13 points and six rebounds, with Okey shadowing him defensively most of the game.
Fellow junior forward Jack Misky added 10 points and four rebounds, while senior guard Jackson Noll, a UW–Stout recruit, finished with seven points and three boards, and junior guard Riley Richard six points.
Led by Sam Okey, the 1995 Division 4 state champion Comets (31–0) look to be unstoppable in our Southwest Wisconsin Dream Tournament, and are headed to the Final Four, where they will match up the against the South Regional champs, the 1981 Cuba City Cubans (28–1).
1) 1981 Cuba City 74, 2) 1990 Darlington 68
PLATTEVILLE — Cuba City went 12 of 14 from the free throw line in the final 2:25 of play to fight off a late 3-point shooting barrage by Darlington as the 1981 Class B state champion Cubans advanced to the Final Four in the SWNews4U.com Boys Dream Tournament with a 74–68 victory over the 1990 Class C state champion Redbirds in the South Regional Championship Game at UW–Platteville’s Williams Fieldhouse.
Senior Jeff Shaffer, who went 27 of 28 from the line during Cuba City’s state title run in 1981, knocked down all six of his foul shots down the stretch, while fellow seniors Bill Wagner, John Tranel and Greg Timmerman each sank two free throws to close out the Cubans’ triumph.
The Redbirds (29–2) trailed by nine points heading into the fourth quarter, but shot their way back into the game with seniors Aaron Lancaster and Daryl Bell each nailing a pair of treys to cut the deficit down to 60–58 with under three minutes to go.
Free throws by Wagner and Shaffer got the lead back to six with 1:45 remaining and the ‘Birds were never able to get closer than four the rest of the way as they Cubans (28–1) continued to sink their foul shots.
Darlington charged out to a 20–12 lead after one quarter of play, but the Cubans fought back to tie the game at 30–30 by the intermission and then outscored the ’Birds 21–12 in the third quarter to build up a 51–42 lead.
Lancaster, who went to Iowa State on a football scholarship and finished his collegiate career as a member of Bo Ryan’s 1995 National Championship UW–Platteville basketball team, did all he could to lead the Redbirds registering a double-double with 21 points and 10 rebounds along with seven assists and three steals.
Wagner also posted a double–double to lead the Cubans with 18 points and 12 boards. Tranel scored 10 of his 13 points in the second half, including six off a trio of steals he converted into breakaway layups in the third quarter.
Timmerman chipped in with 12 points and eight rebounds, while junior Casey Beinborn netted eight points and senior Steve Keheler came off the bench to tally seven points and four rebounds. Shaffer scored six and Jim Simon added four for the Cubans.
Senior “Sweet” Lew Hesseling notched a double–double of 12 points and 10 boards for the ’Birds. Senior Jeff Somerville scored 10 points and Bell finished with eight. Senior Ted Nyffenegger contributed seven points, followed by fellow seniors Jon McCoy and Denny Miller with six and four points, respectively.
The 1981 squad was the first state champion team for the Cuba City boys’ program and the first of three WIAA state championship titles for WBCA Hall of Fame head coach Jerry Petitgoue, who is the winningest prep basketball coach in state history with 963 career varsity victories during his 53-year coaching tenure. In 49 seasons at Cuba City, Petitgoue has compiled a 901–236 overall record, including a 25–0 mark in 2020.
The 1990 Redbirds were the first state champion basketball team in Darlington history and remain the only title winner in program history.
The 1981 Cubans (28–1) advance in the Dream Tournament to face the undefeated 1995 Cassville Comets (31–0) led by their Hall of Fame coach Dennis Uppena and Hall of Fame player Sam Okey, who was Wisconsin’s 1995 “Mr. Basketball” and McDonald’s All-American who went on to play college basketball at Wisconsin and Iowa, and professionally overseas and in the CBA.
1) 1964 Dodgeville 59, 2) 2009 Benton 48
PLATTEVILLE — It seems fitting that Southwest Wisconsin’s two “Hoosier-esque” basketball teams would meet in the SWNews4U.com Boys Dream Tournament, and the match-up lived up to all its hype in the North Regional Championship Game held in front of a standing-room-only crowd in the North Regional Final at UW–Platteville’s Williams Fieldhouse.
Dodgeville’s stunning 59–45 victory over highly regarded Milwaukee North to win the 1964 WIAA State Tournament single-class title remains to this day one of the most classic outcomes in state basketball history, while Benton (with an enrollment of 86 students) remains the smallest team to ever win a state basketball title with their inspiring run to the 2009 Division 4 crown.
The Zephyrs (28–3) journeyed through the decades en route to their meeting with the Dodgers (30–0) in the Elite Eight, knocking off teams from the 1990s (Highland 1992), ’80s (Mineral Point 1988) and ’70s (Richland Center 1974) along the way. However, the ’60s proved to be their demise as the 1964 Dodgeville squad used the teachings of their Hall of Fame head coach John “Weenie” Wilson to derail Benton’s high-scoring machine.
Utilizing a matchup zone defense that was unique for their time and an upbeat offense that prized high-percentage shots, the Dodgers held the Zephyrs under 30 percent shooting for the game and shot nearly 50 percent themselves on the way to a 59–48 regional final victory.
Benton went just 18-for-63 from the field in the game (28.6 percent) including a 4 for 21 (19.1 percent) performance from beyond the 3-point arc, and could not make up ground from the foul line after shooting just 8-of-20 (40 percent) on the night.
Dodgeville, which played 23 years before the 3-point shot was allowed in the state, did not attempt a single 3-pointer in the game so not to anger Wilson. However, the Dodgers knocked down 21 of their 46 2-point attempts (44.7 percent) and went 17-for-25 (68 percent) at the line while winning the rebounding battle, 40–26, in their win.
Twin brothers Connor and Jordan Hendricks each buried early treys to lead the Zephyrs out to a 12–10 first quarter lead, but the senior duo would be shut out from behind the arc the rest of the night by the swarming Dodgers.
Dodgeville came back to outscore Benton 18–15 in the second quarter to take a 28–27 lead into the intermission, and then the Dodgers used a 17–10 scoring advantage in the third quarter to build up an eight-point advantage.
A 3-pointer by senior point guard Kane Hoffman and baskets by Connor Hendricks on back-to-back possessions cut the Dodgeville lead to 48–44 with just under five minutes remaining, but the Dodgers scored seven of their final 11 points from the foul line down the stretch to seal another classic conquest.
Wilson, who has also been inducted to the state’s baseball and football coaching Halls of Fame along with his inclusion in the Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame inaugural class, stuck with his five starters for the bulk of the game.
Dodgeville’s 6’5” senior center Rick Brown, WBCA Hall of Fame player and later a Ripon College standout, led the way with a game-high 17 points and nine rebounds. Senior Carlos “Corky” Evans, who was drafted in the second round of the 1966 MLB draft by the Baltimore Orioles, posted a double–double with 11 points and 11 rebounds, while fellow senior guard Bob Rock tallied 12 points with three steals and four assists.
Senior forward Pat Flynn, who also played at Ripon College, added nine points and three assists, and senior guard Bruce “Grasshopper” Harrison chipped in with nine points. Sixth man Dick Stephens scored the only other points for Dodgeville.
Connor Hendricks finished with 13 points and eight boards for the Zephyrs, who were led by Benton alumnus and current Clarke University men’s head coach Jim Blaine. Jordan Hendricks chipped in 11 points and four assists, while Hoffman tallied seven points, three steals and three assists. Sophomore Matt Savatski scored seven points and freshman David Neis, the current Zephyrs’ head basketball coach, added six points. Junior Michael Droessler had four points and two blocks in the game.
1964 Dodgeville (30–0) advances to the SWNews4U.com Dream Tournament Final Four, where they will face East Regional champion 1991 Cuba City Cubans (28–3) at the UW–Madison’s Kohl Center.
2) 1991 Cuba City 61, 1) 2000 Cassville 52
PLATTEVILLE — Throughout its 2000 Division 4 state champion run, the Cassville Comets had the size advantage tilted in their favor most of the time.
Junior Greg Timmerman, a 6-foot-9 Wisconsin recruit, and his fellow towering front court mates junior Jamie Leifker (6’5”) and sophomore Josh Kuepers (6’6”) erased that Cassville edge and dominated the paint defensively in the 1991 Cuba City Cubans’ 61–52 East Regional final victory at UW–Platteville’s Williams Fieldhouse.
Timmerman, who finished his college career at North Dakota, recorded a team-high 22 points, 15 rebounds and four blocks, while holding Cassville senior big man Tom Uppena (6’7”), a future UW–Platteville player, in check.
Uppena, who had averaged 21.3 points per game during 2000 Cassville’s three previous victories in the SWNews4U.com Boys Dream Tournament, managed just 11 points on 5 of 14 shooting and 1 of 2 from the free throw line, and six rebounds.
The 2000 Comets (29–2), who also went 20–6 and finished second in Division 2 in 1999, kept the game close throughout with its 1–3–1 trapping defense, but the size disparity was too much to overcome.
The 1991 Cubans (28–3) used 11 offensive rebounds to score 18 second-chance points, compared to just four second chance points on three offensive rebounds for Hall of Fame Coach Dennis Uppena’s Cassville team.
Senior point guard Tom Laufenberg assisted on back-to-back baskets by Timmerman and Leifker and then scored on a 10 foot jumper to ignite the Cuban’s 10–3 opening run. Timmmerman scored on a putback in the final minute of the first period and the Cubans led 14–5.
The Comets finally found their footing in the second quarter as senior guards Jeff Glass and Clint Nemitz buried back-to-back triples. Fellow senior Andy Hulst, Cassville’s second tallest player at 6’4” slipped past Leifker and scored on a nice pass from Uppena to pull the Comets within five at 29–24 with 1:37 left in the half.
Cuba City held for one shot and Kuepers tipped in a Timmerman miss at the buzzer to the Cubans a seven-point half time lead, 31–24.
The third quarter was a stalemate, with each team scoring 14 points each. Uppena had his best period, scoring seven in quarter including a huge three-point play that brought Cassville within four at 41–38, but the Cubans scored the final four points of the period on a Leifker putback and a layup by senior guard Randy Palas.
Cassville never could get over the hump. Timmerman scored on back-to-back possession early in the fourth quarter to put the Comets in an insurmountable 13-point hole.
Junior Ned Schauff scored on a back cut, then Nemitz and Glass again connected from downtown to spur an 8–2 Cassville run midway through the fourth, but Timmerman answered with a two-hand dunk in the middle of the lane, then blocked an Uppena shot on the next possession, which led to a fastbreak and a Keupers flush on the other end.
Nemitz buried another triple to make it an eight-point game with 2:10 left, but that’s as close as Cassville would get.
Laufenberg and junior Todd Kowalski combined to go 5 of 7 at the free throw line in the final 1:30 to close out Cuba City’s win.
Timmerman’s game-high 22 points led four Cubans in double figures. Laufenberg added 13 points and seven assists. Leifker finished with 10 points and 11 rebounds, while Kuepers added eight points and seven boards off the bench. Palas and Kowalski scored four points apiece.
Glass led the Comets with 14 points and five assists, followed by Uppena with 11 points and six boards, while Nemitz added nine points on three 3-pointers. Hulst chipped in eight points and a team-high nine rebounds, while Schauff added six off the bench. Senior guard Jared Junk scored four.
1991 Cuba City (28–3) will face North Regional champion 1964 Dodgeville (30–0) in next week’s Final Four matchup at the Kohl Center in Madison.