By Thomas Gunnell
SHULLSBURG – Picking the worst time of the season for their worst shooting performance, the Shullsburg Miners shot themselves right out of the playoffs.
Connecting on just 32 percent from the field, including just 1-for-17 from 3-point range, the #6-seeded Miners were upset by #11-seeded Green Lake/Princeton, 32-29, in a WIAA Division 5 regional quarterfinal boys’ basketball game at SHS on Tuesday, Feb. 19.
“This was one of those games where we played really good defense and offense, except that we did not shoot very well. I thought the shots we took were good shots, it just wasn’t our night,” said Shullsburg head coach Mark Lierman. “Most teams have an off shooting night during a season. It is too bad that our turn came in the one-and-done nature of the playoffs.”
The game was deadlocked at 25 all heading into the fourth quarter after the Miners (14-9 overall) outscored the Tigersharks (13-11) in the third stanza, 8-6, to erase a 19-17 halftime deficit.
The Miners held a 29-25 lead midway through the final frame, but GL/P fought their way back to even with a made free throw and a 3-pointer off an offensive rebound after missing the second free throw and then eventually regained the lead at 32-29.
Shullsburg did what it could down the stretch to regain the momentum as they forced two Tigershark turnovers over the final 30 seconds of regulation, however they misfired on three 3-point attempts as time ran out on the game and their season.
“We had a great defensive effort. Holding a varsity boys basketball team to 32 points usually spells victory,” noted Lierman. “I do not mean any disrespect to our opponent, but I think our shots not falling had more to do with the outcome than anything else.”
The Miners’ two leading scorers for the season, senior guards Pierce Russell (13.4 ppg.) and Collin Hauser (9.7 ppg.), were limited to just eight points on the night after sinking a combined 3-of-22 shots.
Russell accounted for all eight of those points to close his stellar four-year varsity career as the school’s second all-time leading scorer with 1,190 career points, and he recorded eight rebounds as well.
Hauser pulled down six boards and handed out two assists.
Junior forward Connor Crotty led the Miners with 12 points, eight rebounds and two assists, and senior Kyle Hoppman chipped in with five points.
Senior guard Noah Polcyn netted a game-high 14 points for the Tigersharks, who fell to Potosi, 67-44, in the regional semifinal game on Saturday evening.
Tuesday’s game marked the final prep appearance for seniors Collin Hauser, Bret Doyle, Pierce Russell, Kyle Hoppman, Reid Schwartz and Hervey Trejo.
“This was a great group of seniors. I think they have set a standard for the way future players should approach practice and game execution. I appreciate all that they have done for Shullsburg basketball and wish them the very best in the future,” said Lierman.
With several key contributors from this year’s team ready to join forces with members of the Miners’ 15-7 junior varsity team next year, the future appears bright for Shullsburg, but only if the players continue to work hard in the off-season
“The returning varsity players got the experience of preparing for varsity level competition and I expect that to carry-over to next season. Our junior varsity team had a great season and I expect them to step up and help
the varsity next season,” Lierman mentioned. “We need to get stronger, work on our ball-handling and do a lot of shooting in the off-season in order to maintain, or exceed, this year’s success. This is something I believe the returning players can accomplish.”
GL/P……....... 5 14 6 7 – 32
Shullsburg… 6 11 8 4 – 29
Green Lake/Princeton – Pianca 2, Polcyn 14, Danke 6, Sam Soda 2, Krause 1, M. Soda 6, S. Soda 1. Totals – 12 4-8 32.
Shullsburg – Pierce Russell 8, Kyle Hoppman 5, Connor Crotty 12, John Meyer 2, Reid Schwartz 2. Totals – 13 2-6 29.
3-point goals – GLP 4 (Polcyn 2, Danke 2), S 1 (Russell 1). Total fouls – GLP 7, S 9.