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MCDONALD'S GAME OF THE WEEK (Boys Basketball): Boys Dream Tournament Sweet 16 results
2000 Cassville holds off 2017 Darlington in bizarro battle of Tom Uppena
Sweet 16

NOTE: The Sweet 16 results of the 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 May 27-28. Elite 8 (Regional Final) results will be published in the same area newspapers June 3-4.

West Regional

1) 1995 Cassville 60, 4) 1967 Platteville 59
CASSVILLE — Top-seeded Cassville was pushed to the brink by #4-seeded Platteville, but the 1995 state champion Comets pulled out a thrilling 60–59 Sweet 16 victory over the 1967 single-class state semifinalist Hillmen in a third-round game played at CHS.

Cassville’s Mr. Basketball and McDonald’s All-American Sam Okey  beat a triple-team by passing off to a wide open senior John Koopman, who buried a game-winning 10-foot jumper to lift the unbeaten Comets (30–0) to a one-point victory. Koopman finished with 11 points.

Moments earlier, Platteville senior Tom Barth sank a pair of free throws with 8.2 seconds remaining to put the Hillmen (26–3) ahead 59–58. Barth, who went on to play both football and baseball at UW–Platteville, finished with 10 points.

Fellow senior Bill Hake (6’2”) played a key defensive role in the game for Platteville, helping hold Okey in check before the game-winning play. Hake, who was giving up five inches to Okey, battled the Cassville star throughout using his quickness and positioning, along constant double team help from 6’5” Dennis Nodolf, under the basket, or whoever was near Okey when he touched the ball to simply try and limit the Cassville’s star’s offensive opportunities.

Despite the constant defensive attention, Okey scored 12 of his game-high 23 points in the opening half to put the Comets up 28–24 at the intermission. The future Wisconsin Badger and Iowa Hawkeye also pulled down 13 rebounds, notched seven blocked shots and dished out five assists on the night. Okey’s defensive presence in the lane also limited the scoring opportunities of Platteville leading scorer Jim Lawinger, a 6’2” senior forward.

Lawinger, who went on to play basketball, football and track at UW–Platteville, scored team-high 16 points, nine below his season average. Nodolf, who also went on to play basketball at UWP,  tallied a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds for coach Royce Reeves’ Hillmen. 

Senior guard Steve Klaas registered nine points and five steals, while junior Bob Faherty, who played football at UW–Platteville and was named the 1971 WIAC Player of the Year, added six points off the bench. Fellow junior John Steffen, who led the 1968 Hillmen in scoring and went on to play at UW–Platteville, also scored six points off the bench.

Koopman grabbed seven rebounds to go along with his 11 points, while fellow senior Scott Uppena added 10 points and eight boards for Hall of Fame coach Dennis Uppena’s Comets. Junior twin brothers Tim and Todd Ackerman chipped in with eight and six points, respectively, to aid the Comets’ win.

7) 2020 Cuba City 88, 3) 1972 Bloomington 80 
BLOOMINGTON — Cuba City finished the 2020 season among the final eight teams in Division 4; but, due to circumstances beyond their own control (COVID-19), the Cubans were unable to see where they stood among those final eight teams.

However, those Cubans will get the chance to see where they ranked against the Elite Eight in the Dream Tournament after upsetting the No. 3 seed 1972 Bloomington Bluejays 88–80 in an up-tempo clash.

With these two teams coming from different eras, both had to get used to some different rules. The game was played using quarters instead of halves, which was the case until 2016, but on an agreement between both teams they did utilize the 3-point arc, which wasn’t adopted until 1987.

Scoring came in bunches throughout the game with Hall of Fame coach Ron Benish’s Bluejays (26–2) grabbing an early 11–10 lead before Hall of Fame coach Jerry Petitgoue’s Cubans (28–0) came storming back with a 16-9 to jump into the lead to stay.

The Cubans took a 42–36 lead with them into the locker room at halftime, and then opened up the second half on a 12–2 run to build up a 16-point advantage.

The WIAA Class B state champion Bluejays whittled the deficit down to nine by the end of the third quarter and got as close as five late in the fourth until the Cubans closed out the victory with a 7 of 10 performance from the foul line.

Junior Brayden Dailey scored 18 of his game-high 28 points in the opening half and finished with 12 rebounds, three blocks and three steals to lead the Cubans.

Senior point guard Brady Olson tallied 20 points, five assists and three steals. Senior Jackson Noll knocked down four of the Cubans’ nine 3-pointers en route to a 16-point night, while junior Jack Misky added a double–double with 14 points and 10 boards and fellow junior Riley Richard knocked down two treys on his way to eight points.

Junior guard Tom Martin poured in a team-high 23 points to go along with four assists and four steals to lead Bloomington. Junior Jeff Vorwald, who later played at Loras College, followed with 21 points, while senior Greg Hermsen registered a double-double with 19 points and 11 rebounds and senior Ron Vorwald added nine points and seven boards.

The Bluejays averaged 78.6 points per game — without a 3-point line — during seven playoff games en rout to the 1972 Class B state championship.

The 2020 Cubans averaged 81.4 points per game in 26 victories.

South Regional

1) 1981 Cuba City 67, 4) 2015 Mineral Point 64
CUBA CITY — An offensive rebound and putback by senior Greg Timmerman with 32 seconds remaining in the game proved to be the difference maker in this Sweet 16 match up between the 1981 Class B state champions from Cuba City and the 2015 D4 state runners up from Mineral Point.

With the two teams knotted at 64-64 and the clock ticking ever closer to all zeros, Cuba City’s Bill Wagner put up a 15-foot jumper from the right baseline with 35 seconds showing on the clock.

Wagner’s shot bounced off the back of the rim and into the hands of a waiting Timmerman, who quickly put the ball up off the glass and into the basket for a 66–64 Cuba City advantage.
Following a time out by Mineral Point coach Dan Burreson, the Pointers set up a game-winning attempt, which left senior point guard Sy Staver, a D3 Edgewood College recruit, open at the top of the key for what looked like the game-winning 3-pointer.

Instead, Staver’s shot came up short off the front of the rim, with the rebound going to Cuba City senior John Tranel, who was fouled immediately and sent to the free throw line with 0.6 seconds showing on the clock. Tranel made the first free throw, but missed the second, leaving very little time for a desperation full-court heave by the Pointers.

This game was close from start to finish, and included seven ties and five different lead changes. It was Cuba City clinging to a one-point lead at the half, 35–34, but it was Mineral Point taking a lead of 50–48 into the fourth quarter.

The Cubans (27–1) regained the lead midway through the fourth quarter on a steal and lay-up by Wagner, but a 3-pointer by Mineral Point senior Alec Schmitz put the visitors back up by one with just under four minutes to play.

Coach Jerry Petitgoue’s Cubans then clamped down on defense, limiting the Pointers to just one made field goal in the final three minutes, which came from senior Tarek Oellerich with 1:10 to play, and knotted the score at 64–64. 

Tranel led the Cubans with 18 points and seven rebounds, while Bill Wagner added 12 points, Gregg Timmerman 10 an six boards. 

The Pointers (29–2) were led by Staver‘s 17 points, while Oellerich added 13 points and eight rebounds. Schmitz chipped in 10 points, while Turner Poad had eight and Joey Gorgan six.

2) 1990 Darlington 77, 3) 1998 Cuba City 71
DARLINGTON — In a game of matchups, the 1998 D3 state champions from Cuba City had no answer for Aaron Lancaster, who led the 1990 Class C state champions from Darlington into the Dream Tournament Elite Eight with a six-point victory.

The combination of Lancaster and senior teammate Lew Hesseling proved to be too much for the smaller Cubans, who had a dynamic duo of their own in senior guards Tim Cummins and Matt Schultz.

Lancaster, who went on to win a NCAA D3 national championship at UW–Platteville under Bo Ryan, finished the game with a team-high 24 points for the Redbirds, and also pulled down 12 rebounds and seven assists, just three assists shy of a triple–double in this Sweet 16 match up.

Hesseling, who went on to play at D3 Edgewood College, chipped in 15 points, including 10 in the second half, and five rebounds, while Jeff Somerville and Denny Miller each finished with eight.

Another huge factor in the win was coach Michael Hopkins’ bench, who contributed 17 points in Darlington’s win, compared to just eight points off the bench for coach Jerry Petitgoue’s undersized Cubans (26–3).

Cummins finished the contest with 16 points and six rebounds, while Schultz was close behind with 13 points and five assists. The Cubans also got 11 points from 6’2” senior center Eric Mueller and eight from Chris McCabe.

After knocking off one historic team from Cuba City, the Redbirds (29–1) advance to the Elite Eight, where they will fight for the South Regional title against a very strong No. 1 seed in the 1981 Class B state champions from Cuba City (27–1).

North Regional

1) 1964 Dodgevile 91, 4) 2012 Cuba City 86 (2 OT)
DODGEVILLE — Senior Bob Rock scored six of his team-high 25 points in the second overtime to help undefeated 1964 Dodgeville stave off a Sweet 16 upset against 2012 Division 4 runner-up Cuba City.

The showdown of up-tempo teams from two entirely different eras did not disappoint and two overtime periods later became the game of the Boys Dream Tournament thus far.

Coach John “Weenie” Wilson’s 1964 single-class state champion Dodgers (29–0), who topped the 100-point mark three times during their 1964 championship season, pushed the pace from the opening tip. The Dodgers used an 10–2 first quarter run to build a 48–39 halftime lead.

The size of seniors Trent Denlinger (a 6’6” Wisconsin football recruit) and Adams (6’5”) got the Cubans back in the game in third quarter as the visitors outscored the Dodgers 22–10 in the third to grab a 61–58 lead.

The teams traded basket after basket early in the fourth before a long jump shot by Rock tied the game at 72–72 with 18 seconds left.

Coach Jerry Pettigoue’s Cubans (29–2) had a chance to win at the end of the regulation, but senior Cory Vaassen’s 3-pointer from the right wing rimmed out at the buzzer.

Pat Flynn’s layup gave Dodgeville took an 80–78 with a minute left in overtime. Senior Brandon Slaats was fouled during a battle for a loose ball and made both free throws to tie the game at 80 with 27 seconds left in the first extra session. The Dodgers held for the last shot this time, but Denlinger blocked senior Rick Brown, a 6’5” center Arizona State recruit, in the lane and time expired as the two teams battled for the rebound.

Brown, who averaged 15.7 points and 14 rebounds in three state tournament games for the 1964 single-class state champions, won the tip to begin the second overtime and on a feed from Flynn this time slipped past Denlinger for a two-point lead, 82–80. 

Slaats missed a runner in the lane on the next possession and after a back tap rebound attempt by Cuba City’s Zach Adams, Rock scooped up the loose ball and raced away for a fast break layup and a four-point lead.

The teams traded turnovers, before senior Nate Murray drilled a clutch 3-pointer from the left wing to pull the Cubans within a point at 84–83 with less than two minutes to play.

Dodgeville worked for a good shot and Brown eventually drew a shooting foul on Denlinger on the ensuing possession, sending the Cuba City center to the bench with his fifth foul. 

Brown made the first and missed the second, but senior Carlos “Corky” Evans, a Wisconsin baseball recruit, and future MLB second round pick of the Baltimore Orioles, grabbed the offensive rebound and scored to give the Dodgers a 87–84 lead with 41 seconds left.

Vaassen sliced through the Dodgeville defense the next trip down court and scored over Brown at the rim, but Cuba City was forced to foul. Rock then made a pair from the line with 23 seconds left to make it 89–86. 

Dodgeville doubled Vaassen on the ensuing possession, but the talented small forward found Adams cutting through the lane. Adams appeared to have an open layup, but Evans tipped the ball away from behind and batted the rebound out to Rock. 

Rock was fouled again and made both to put the game out of reach with 12 seconds left. Rock finished with 25 points, including 9 of 10 at the free throw line, and six rebounds to lead the Dodgers. Brown added 22 points and 16 rebounds. Evans finished with 15 points and nine board, while Flynn added 12 points, while fellow senior Bruce Harrison finished with nine points. 

Vaassen scored a team-high 22 points and grabbed six rebounds to lead the Cubans, who averaged 79.2 points per game in five playoff victories to reach the 2012 D4 state champions game. 

Adams finished with 18 points and 12 rebounds, and Denlinger had 14 points and 10 boards. Murray finished with 10 points, while Slaats scored nine and passed out six assists. Junior Jason Derby, who went on to play at Loras College, scored eight off the bench.

2) 2009 Benton 62, 11) 1988 Mineral Point 49
BENTON — The 2009 Benton Zephyrs ended the Boys Dream Tournament’s biggest Cinderella run with a 62–49 victory over No. 11 seed 1988 Mineral Point.

The 2009 D4 state champion Zephyrs (28–2) controlled the pace, shot lights out from 3-point land (8 of 17) and the free throw line (12 of 14) and played strong defense in a comfortable 11-point victory over coach Jim Bennett’s upstart Pointers (23–5), who advanced to the Class C sectional finals in 1988,

Senior twin brothers Connor and Jordan Hendricks hit back-to-back 3-pointers in the game’s opening minutes, then freshman David Nies hit a pair of triples off the bench late in the quarter at Benton raced out to an early 18-7 lead.

The Zephyrs also made a concerted effort to limit the touches of senior scoring machine Pat Murphy, who poured in 41 points in a first-round upset of No. 6 2001 Pecatonica, and a game-high 35 points in a second-round stunner of No. 3 1991 Shullsburg, Murphy faced a flurry of double teams as the Zephyrs employed a box-and-1 to slow the Pointers’ all-time leading scorer.

Murphy still finished with game-high 18 points, but on 7 of 20 shooting, and eight rebounds. Fellow senior Jon Mitchell added 15 points and seven rebounds, and junior Mike Murphy added seven points, but not other Pointer scored more than four points. 

Senior Connor Hendricks, a D4 first-team All-State selection made three 3-pointers and finished with 15 points and six rebounds to led the Zephyrs, who rebounded very well and also controlled the pace by slowing the game down.

Jordan Hendricks made a pair of 3-pointers and finished with 12 points, five rebounds and four assists, while fellow senior guard Kane Hoffman, also a D4 first-team All-State selection, chipped in 10 points, six rebounds and five assists. 

Junior Michael Droessler, who was the primary defender on Murphy, added eight points and 10 rebounds. Nies finished with eight and sophomore Matt Savatski added seven points for the balanced Zephyrs, who held their seven playoff opponents to an average of 44.6 points per game during their 2009 state championship run.

East Regional

1) 2000 Cassville 69, 4) 2017 Darlington 63
CASSVILLE — The idea of the Dream Tournament is a bit bizarre in and of itself, but the tournament took a real turn to the surreal in round three when Darlington head coach Tom Uppena not only got the chance to coach against his father, Cassville Hall of Fame coach Dennis, but also himself as a teenager as Uppena’s 2017 Redbirds faced off against Uppena’s 2000 Comets in a Sweet 16 match-up at Cassville High School.

Tom Uppena the player did not take it easy on Tom Uppena the coach as he pumped in a game-high 25 points, pulled down 13 rebounds and blocked five shots to lead the WIAA Division 4 state champion Comets over the Division 4 state runner-up Redbirds 69–63 in a wild clash.

Darlington (29–2) bolted out to an early 16–4 lead after causing several turnovers to fuel their transition game. Following a timeout, the Comets (29–1) settled down and steadily fought their way back into the game by slowing up the ‘Birds and forcing them to play a half-court game.

With the 6’6” Uppena and 6’4” senior Andy Hulst leading the way with 20 combined first-half points, Cassville whittled away at the lead and eventually grabbed a 31–28 lead by the intermission against the much smaller Redbirds, who did not have a starter taller than 6’3”.
The ‘Birds got as close as one on several occasions in the second half, but they could never regain the lead. The Comets went 9 of 13 from the free line down the stretch to pull away for a six-point victory.

Hulst pitched in with 14 points and nine rebounds, while senior Clint Nemitz netted 11 points (including three 3-pointers), junior Ned Schauff chipped in with nine points and senior Jeff Glass added six.

Senior Trevor Johnson led three Redbirds in double figures with 17 points. Fellow seniors Will Schwartz and Ryan Glendenning contributed 16 and 12 points, respectively, with Schwartz adding five steals and Glendenning dishing out four assists.
Josh Soper scored eight points and Hunter Johnson added seven points and seven rebounds for the ‘Birds.

2) 1991 Cuba City 58, 3) 1981 Iowa–Grant 51
CUBA CITY – Two-time SWAL 1 Player of the Year and 1992 Wisconsin Mr. Basketball Greg Timmerman was a force to reckoned with on both ends of the court while leading Hall of Fame coach Jerry Petitgoue’s 1991 Cuba City Cubans over the 1981 Iowa–Grant Panthers 58–51 in a battle between state champions at CCHS.

Timmerman finished with 24 points, 15 rebounds and four blocked shots for the WIAA Division 3 state champion Cubans (27–3). Timmerman’s defensive presence under the hoop forced the Panthers to shoot from the outside and limited their second chance opportunities.

Offensively Cuba City’s size took over late in the first half. Timmerman and sophomore Josh Kuepers (6’7”) scored back-to-back baskets late in the second quarter and the Cubans went into the halftime break leading 26–21. 

Cuba City continued dominating the boards in the second half to hold off the Panthers (25–4). Another putback basket by Timmerman with gave the Cubans a 54–47 lead five minutes left. 

The hosts finished the night with a 40–23 rebounding edge, while scoring 10 second-chance points in the second half.

After Iowa–Grant’s Mark Hagen misfired on a 10-foot jumper from the right wing, the host Cubans went into a motion stall on offense, burning more than two minutes off the clock. 

I–G was forced to foul the rest of the way and Cuba City made 4 of 6 from the free throw line in the final 1:31 to hold on for a seven-point victory.

Senior Tom Laufenberg scored 11 points and fellow senior Randy Palas netted 10 and grabbed six boards for the victors. The 6’7” Kuepers added six points and eight boards off the bench.

Hagen paced Hall of Fame coach Steve Randall’s Panthers with 14 points and five rebounds. Junior Mark Place scored 11 points and classmate Dean Pope added nine on the night.