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Tigers claw their way to regional title
They hold off conference champ Bangor, 50-48, in regional final
dacoda preuss grant jefferies
Dacoda Preuss and Grant Jefferies celebrate the Tigers' 45-37 win over La Farge Friday night. - photo by Nate Beier photo/

BANGOR — Top-seeded Bangor authored a frenzied fourth-quarter comeback, but visiting Hillsboro held on for a 50–48 victory to claim the Bangor Regional title Saturday night.

The Cardinals buried four 3-pointers in the fourth quarter to Hillsboro’s seven-point lead to just two, but the Tigers made just enough free throws down the stretch to hold on for a two-point win.

Hillsboro converted 20 of 35 free throw attempts, including 16 of 26 in the fourth quarter.

Senior guard Brandon Stanek made 9 of 14 from the stripe on his way a game-high 17 points. He also grabbed eight rebounds.

“This was just a great game to be a part of,” said Hillsboro head coach John Koopman. “Our defense made them work for everything they got. I thought we really did a great job of shutting down [Canon] O’Heron in the second half.

Hillsboro held O’Heron, a 6–5 forward averaging 19 points a game, to 13 points in the game, and just five in the second half.

Bangor jumped out to an early lead, but a pair of baskets by Stanek gave the Tigers a 10–8 lead at the end of one.
Sophomore forward Max Stockwell really set the tone in the first half.

“They had not answer for him in the post which enabled us to do a lot of different things offensively in the second half,” said Koopman.

Stockwell finished the game with 14 points, on 5 of 7 shooting, and 10 rebounds.

“They got hot down the stretch hitting 4 three pointers in the fourth to close the gap but we made enough to always have the score just out of reach,” added Koopman. “It really was a great game and the guys would be very proud of what they have accomplished.”

The Tigers improved to 21–4 on the season and will now face Cochrane–Fountain City (18–7), a three-seed in the Gilmanton Regional, in a D5 sectional semifinal at Neillsville Thursday at 7 p.m.

The other half of the sectional bracket pits No. 1 seed Cassville (24–1) against Barneveld (19–6) at Mineral Point, also on Thursday night.

The winners will meet for the sectional championship and a trip to state Saturday afternoon at La Crosse Logan at 1 p.m.

Friday night Hillsboro used stifling defense to defeat Ridge and Valley champion La Farge 45–37 in a regional semifinal game at Hillsboro High School.

The Tigers held La Farge leading scorers Carver Phillips and Tanner Heisel to a combined 12 points on combined 5 of 25 shooting.

Phillips scored seven points on 3 of 13 shooting, while Heisel struggled to five points on 2 of 12 from the field. Both shot 1 of 9 from 3-point range.

“To hold them to a combined 12 points was a great accomplishment by our kids,” said Koopman. “The score got close but I was never worried because the kids seemed confident and never really lost focus. We could have put the game away earlier if we would have converted from the free throw line.”

The Tigers were just 9 of 25 from the line in the win.

Sophomore Joey Helgerson led Hillsboro with 14 points. Stockwell just missed a double–double with nine points and a team-high 14 rebounds.

Hillsboro opened the playoffs last Tuesday with a 51–32 victory over eighth-seeded Cashton (4–17).

Stanek scored a team-high 16 points with four assists and three rebounds, and Helgerson added 13 points and three boards.