SHULLSBURG – There was a lot of celebration going on the court for the Shullsburg Miners boys’ basketball team last Friday night.
On the night head coach Mark Lierman honored one of the most decorated senior classes to ever go through the program, his Miners added to their legacy by securing sole possession of their third straight Six Rivers West championship crowns with a 62-55 victory over Highland at SHS on Feb. 17, led by senior guard Hunter Matye, who poured in a team-high 19 points to top the 1,000-point mark for his career.
“Winning conference championships is never easy, so to win our third outright title in a row is quite an accomplishment for these young men. It was a bonus that we were able to wrap it up at home and Senior Night because Highland came to play,” said Lierman.
“We don’t run a ‘star system’ here so in order to acquire 1,000 points one has to play in a lot of games and be consistent. Hunter has done both. I actually think his rebounding and assists totals are just as impressive.”
Matye became the second Miner this season to go over the 1,000-point plateau, joining fellow senior and University of Minnesota-Crookston recruit Joey Meyer, who topped the milestone against Potosi on Jan. 26.
“For us to have two players this season to go over 1,000 points is fairly unique. It also means they have great teammates who have gotten them the ball, whether it be an assist or by playing great defense to get the ball back for another possession,” Lierman stated.
Matye needed just six points to reach 1,000 going into the night and he reached it exactly when he sank his second of five 3-pointers late in the first half. He finished with eight points in the half to lead the Miners (19-2 overall, 11-0 SRW) out to a 30-27 halftime lead over the Cardinals (14-6, 9-2).
After scoring the last four points of the first half to grab a three-point lead, the Miners tallied the first five points of the second half to extend their lead to 35-27.
The Cardinals used a 17-5 scoring run to take a 44-40 midway through the second half, but the Miners rallied by doubling up their guests on the scoreboard the rest of the way to kick off their conference title celebration.
“We had an eight-point lead and it disappeared in three or four possessions all due to their ability to knock down some three pointers. We tightened up on defense and got back to working the ball on offense to regain the lead. We showed tremendous poise during their run and while finishing the game. We made our free throws in the final two minutes, which is a good sign for the remainder of the season,” explained Lierman.
The Miners finished 10-of-15 at the foul line for the night, while the Cardinals went to the stripe just three times in the game with two makes.
Meyer finished 18 points and senior guard Noah Wand tacked on 11 points to join Matye in double figures for the Miners.
Senior Jon Ross Linscheid sank six treys on his way to a game-high 21 points to lead Highland. Sophomores Spencer Linscheid and Derek Miller chipped in with 14 and 10 points, respectively, for the Cards.
At Benton, on Tuesday, Feb. 14, the third time continued to be the charm as the #7-ranked Miners used a 26-0 scoring run to open the second half to pull away for a 63-28 SRW victory over the host Zephyrs.
Shullsburg swept the season series from Benton (9-12, 3-8), and added a win over their rivals in the championship game of the Mike Alexander Tournament in December.
The Miners grabbed hold the lead early in this one, but the Zephyrs managed to keep things close for much of the first half and were still very much in the game at the intermission trailing by just eight at 29-21.
However, the Miners’ 26 unanswered points to open the second half erased any hopes for an upset. The Zephyrs got off good, open looks during their scoring drop, but they could not get anything to fall through the net for the first 11 and a half minutes of the half.
By the time junior Josh Redfearn ended the Zephyrs’ drought with a basket at the 6:20 mark, the Miners had built up a 34-point advantage.
“We got better at following our principles on defense and that allowed us to get out and run on offense,” said Coach Lierman.
Hunter Matye led Shullsburg with a game-high 17 points. Noah Wand chipped in with 12 points and his sophomore brother, Alex, came off the bench to match his season-high with eight points.
Sophmore guard Brooks Tiedeman scored seven points to lead Benton, while Redfearn and sophomore Nick Jansen tallied six points apiece for the hosts.
Shullsburg closes the regular season at Cassville (3-18, 3-8) for their SRW finale on Thursday, Feb. 23.
The WIAA Division 5 boys’ tournament will begin on Tuesday, Feb. 28. The Miners received the #2-seed and will host Riverdale (1-18) in a regional quarterfinal game at SHS, starting at 7 p.m.
“I like our seed position and we look forward to getting the ‘second-season’ started. This is always an exciting time of the year for the teams and their fans. One game at a time has to be our mantra,” said Lierman.
The regional semifinal game will be held on Friday, March 3, at 7 p.m. The regional final is scheduled for Saturday, March 4, also at 7 p.m.
Highland……………. 27 28 – 55
Shullsburg…………. 30 32 – 62
Highland – S. Linscheid 14, Welsh 8, D. Drury 2, JR Linscheid 21, Miller 10. Totals – 22 2-3 55.
Shullsburg – Lance Lierman 6, Hunter Matye 19, Jeremiah Bailey 3, Jacob Berendes 2, Noah Wand 11, Joey Meyer 18, Cameron Doyle 3. Totals – 22 10-15 62.
3-point goals– H 9 (S. Linscheid 1, Welsh 2, JR Linscheid 6), S 8 (Matye 5, N. Wand 2, Doyle 1). Total fouls– H 16, S 10. Fouled out– H: Minter.
Shullsburg……… 29 34 – 63
Belmont…………. 21 7 – 28
Shullsburg – Lance Lierman 6, Alex Wand 8, Hunter Matye 17, Jeremiah Bailey 6, Jacob Berendes 4, Noah Wand 12, Griffin Wiegel 2, Nate Wedige 2, Cameron Doyle 6. Totals – 25 11-19 63.
Benton – Nick Jansen 6, Aaron Coffey 2, Nick Wagner 3, Brooks Tiedeman 7, Wyatt Bastian 2, Josh Redfearn 6, Caleb O’Neill 2. Totals– 11 2-6 28.
3-point goals– S 2 (N. Wand 2), B 4 (Jansen 2, Wagner 1, Tiedeman 1). Total fouls– S 9, B 16. Fouled out–B: Bastian.