SENECA – The Miners dug themselves a first-half hole they were unable to climb out of as their season came to an end at Seneca High School on Friday, March 2.
The top-seeded Indians built up an 11-point halftime lead, and then went 11-for-18 from the free throw line in the second half to hold off #8-seeded Shullsburg, 56-43, in a WIAA Division 5 regional semifinal boys’ basketball game.
“They earned home court advantage, which was huge for them with us having to drive a good distance and play in an unfamiliar gym,” noted Shullsburg head coach Luke Tyson. “Our scoring droughts again came out in the first half. We were able to make a nice run at the beginning of the second half, but ultimately couldn’t dig ourselves out of the hole. Seneca is a very talented team with some great players and we competed well with them, but ultimately they made more plays than we did.”
Senior guard Noah Allan scored 10 points to lead the Indians (22-2 overall) in the first half, while senior Cody Ostrander chipped in with seven points and junior Jared Payne added six to send Seneca into the half sporting a 26-15 advantage.
Shullsburg junior Isaac Hoppman scored 11 of his career-high 15 points in the second half to try and rally the Miners (12-12)– who also got six points from junior Jacob Berendes and five points from Griffin Wiegel in the second half– but the comeback came up short as Allan poured in another 13 points and the Indians sank enough free throws to hold the Miners at bay.
The Indians held a huge advantage from the foul line in the game, outscoring the Miners by 12 points at the stripe after sinking 16-of-25 of their attempts. Shullsburg went just 4-of-6 from the line.
Berendes sank four of the Miners’ seven 3-pointers on his way to a 12-point night.
“I am very excited about the team moving forward,” said Coach Tyson, who did not have a single senior on the team this year. “We have many guys who will be battling all summer and pushing for minutes next year. If we put in the work in the offseason, we should be in a great spot to compete next year.”
Allan led all scorers with 23 points for Seneca, who has knocked Shullsburg out of the playoffs in two of the past three seasons. The Miners defeated the Indians on the way to a state appearance last season.
Payne followed with 12 points and Ostrander added 10 for the Indians, who defeated Wauzeka-Steuben, 61-51, on Saturday night to claim their third consecutive regional crown.
Seneca heads to sectional play where they will face #7-seeded Southwestern (13-12) in a semifinal contest at Mineral Point High School on Thursday, March 8, starting at 7 p.m.
At Shullsburg, on Tuesday, Feb. 27, for the third time in four meetings this season, the Miners discovered a way to derail the Benton Zephyrs.
The host Miners pumped in 16 unanswered points during a four-minute span midway through the second half to pull ahead of the #9-seeded Zephyrs (13-10), and then held on for a 63-56 victory in a WIAA Division 5 regional quarterfinal boys’ basketball game at SHS on Tuesday, Feb. 27.
“It is a good rivalry between the two schools and we were fortunate enough to play at home. I knew it was going to be a close and tough game,” Tyson remarked. “One of the big reasons we were able to pull out the win was that we were able to put some points up. Scoring has been an issue for us for a majority of the season, so putting up over 60 on a good Benton team was a big step for us.”
Benton broke off on an 11-4 scoring run to build up an 18-10 lead midway through the opening half, but the Miners answered back with 12 straight points to grab a 22-18 advantage.
Shullsburg held a 30-27 lead at the intermission.
The lead changed hands four times over the first eight minutes of the second half. After sophomore guard Will Lawrence put the Zephyrs ahead for the final time at 42-40 on a pair of free throws with 10:54 left, the Miners reeled off the next 16 points over the next four minutes to open up a 56-42 lead.
Benton got back within 59-53 with under a minute remaining, however the Miners hit enough free throws down the stretch top put the game away.
Junior forward Alex Wand poured in 16 of his game-high 20 points in the second half to lead the Miners to victory.
Junior guard Jacob Berendes added 18 points for Shullsburg, who faced Benton for the third time in a span of 17 days and defeated the Zephyrs for the second time in less than a week.
Junior guard Brooks Tiedeman scored 12 of his team-high 18 points in the second half for the Zephyrs.
Junior guard Wyatt Bastian chipped in with 14 points, while Lawrence finished with 11 for Benton.
WIAA DIVISION 5 REGIONAL SEMIFINAL
Shullsburg…….. 15 28 – 43
Seneca…………. 26 30 – 56
Shullsburg – Jacob Berendes 12, Alex Wand 3, Nolan Strang 3, Griffin Wiegel 5, Kyle Klotz 2, Oscar Ortiz 3, Isaac Hoppman 15. Totals – 16 4-6 43.
Seneca – Ostrander 10, Allan 23, Caya 4, Chambers 2, Clark 5, Payne 12. Totals – 18 16-25 56.
3-point goals– SH 7 (Berendes 4, Strang 1, Wiegel 1, Ortiz 1), SE 4 (Ostrander 2, Allan 1, Payne 1). Total fouls– SH 21, SE 12. Fouled out– S: Wiegel.
WIAA DIVISION 5 REGIONAL QUARTERFINAL
Benton…………. 27 29 – 56
Shullsburg…….. 30 33 – 63
Benton – Will Lawrence 11, Nathan Mowry 4, Nick Wagner 2, Nick Jansen 7, Brooks Tiedeman 18, Wyatt Bastian 14. Totals – 21 8-18 56.
Shullsburg – Jacob Berendes 18, Alex Wand 20, Joseph Turpin 5, Dylan Heim 4, Griffin Wiegel 5, Oren Charles 4, Oscar Ortiz 3, Isaac Hoppman 4. Totals – 26 5-12 63.
3-point goals– B 6 (Lawrence 2, Jansen 1, Tiedeman 1, Bastian 2), S 6 (Berendes 2, Wand 1, Turpin 1, Wiegel 1, Ortiz 1). Total fouls– B 15, S 16. Fouled out– B: Jansen.