DODGEVILLE — Most observers picked Dodgeville and Platteville to finish on top of the Southwest Wisconsin Conference in boys basketball this season.
Neither the Dodgers nor the Hillmen are in first place as of this week, but the Hillmen are now in second place by themselves, one game behind SWC leader River Valley, with a 65–61 win over the Dodgers Friday.
Next up for the Hillmen: the SWC-leading Blackhawks (6–3, 4–0)
“Dodgeville is a well-coached tough opponent and winning at their gym is never easy, so to get a key conference victory on the road was important for us,” said Hillmen coach Mike Huser. “It sets up a big game on Friday night at River Valley, but there is so much basketball left to play so a lot is going to happen in the next several weeks.
“I am sure it will be interesting to watch from a fan’s standpoint as far as the standings, but we have to worry about ourselves and make sure we are improving each day and stay focused on what we can control.”
The Hillmen beat the Dodgers at their own game by hitting eight 3-pointers — four of them from senior Andy Eggers, who scored 12 points off the bench — and swiping 13 steals in the win, to overcome foul trouble that included forward Donovan Blevins fouling out and forward Connor Riley sitting much of the second half with four fouls before also fouling out.
That left defense against 6–7 Dodger Bryce Prochaska to forward Garret Heer, whose contribution exceeded his statistics — six points on 3-of-3 shooting, four rebounds, one assist, two steals and no turnovers.
It took until the end of the first half for the Hillmen to take advantage of their ability to steal the ball. Dodgeville’s largest lead was 13–7 on the combination of Prochaska from inside and Peyton Tranel from near and beyond the three-point stripe. A Heer basket and Eggers 3-pointer tied the game at 15–15 with 5 minutes left in the half. After a Nate James basket, the Hillmen outscored the Dodgers 9–1 in the last 3:13 of the half, concluded with a Heer basket just before the buzzer, to give Platteville a 24–18 halftime lead.
That lead disappeared on two Adam Phillips 3-pointers, but reappeared on 3-pointers by Isaiah Oswald, Cade Rohrbach and Eggers, plus an Oswald basket to give Platteville a 35–26 lead four minutes into the second half. Platteville’s lead was never more than 11, but every time Dodgeville made a run, the Hillmen had an answer. After a 6–0 run cut the lead to 45–41, Rohrbach hit a 3-pointer, and Eggers followed two Noah Blalock free throws with another three.
“We were able to force more turnovers in the second half and get some easy scoring opportunities and make some timely three-point baskets as well,” said Huser. “The first half I thought we played too passive against their zone defense and in the second half we were much more aggressive attacking the basket and that led to open looks from behind the three point line.”
Riley got his fourth foul with 6:21 left, two minutes before Blevins fouled out. But Rohrbach drove the lane, scored, was fouled and hit the free throw to make it 54–46 with 3:55 left, and two Riley baskets expanded the lead to 58–47 with 1:36 left.
Tranel’s two free throws, Phillips’ 3-pointer and two Prochaska free throws from Riley’s fifth foul, sandwiching two Oswald free throws, cut the lead to 60–54 with 49.5 seconds left, but a Dodger steal was followed by a 3-point miss. Zach White hit two free throws, but Prochaska’s three-point play cut the lead to 62–57 with 31.2 seconds left. Two more Oswald free throws and a Rohrbach free throw meant Prochaska’s basket with three seconds left left the Dodgers four points short.
Oswald led the Hillmen with 16 points and five steals, while Rohrbach added 13 points, four rebounds and four assits.
Last Tuesday, Platteville suffered a 72–62 non-conference loss at undefeated New Glarus (8–0).
Zach Feller scored a game-high 20 points to lead four Glarner Knights in the win.
Blevins finished with a double–double of 17 points and 11 rebounds in the loss. Oswald had 13 points.
New Glarus 72, Platteville 62
(from Tuesday, Jan. 2 @ New Glarus)
Platteville 23 39 — 62
New Glarus 31 41 — 72
Platteville (8–3) — Andy Eggers 6, Donovan Blevins 17, Cade Rohrbach 5, Isaiah Oswald 13, Zach White 8, Connor Riley 7, Trey Bartels 6. Totals — 21 10-15 62.
New Glarus (8–0) — Cullen Brooks 12, Zach Feller 20, Jaden Krecklow 15, Connor Siegenthaler 9, Mason Mortinson 3, Cole Runde 2, Trevor Gassman 11. Totals — 26 9-13 72.
3-point goals — P: 8 (Eggers 2, Rorhbach 1, Oswald 3, White 2), NG: 8 (Feller 2, Krecklow 4, Siegenthaler 1, Gassman 1). Total fouls — P: 17, NG: 20. Fouled out — none.
Platteville 65, Dodgeville 61
(from Friday, Jan. 5 @ Dodgeville)
Platteville 24 41 — 65
Dodgeville 18 43 — 61
Platteville (9–3, 3–1) — Andy Eggers 12, Donovan Blevins 9, Cade Rohrbach 13, Isaiah Oswald 16, Zach White 3, Connor Riley 6, Garrett Heer 6. Totals — 21-51 15-22 65.
Dodgeville (5–6, 2–2) — Noah Blalock 2, Adam Phillips 9, Peyton Tranel 12, Nate James 8, Brandon Moldrem 4, Bryce Prochaska 26. Totals — 17 21-26 61.
3-point goals — P: 8 (Eggers 4, Rorhbach 2, Oswald 2), D: 6 (Phillips 3, Tranel 3). Total fouls — P: 23 D: 20. Fouled out — P: Blevins, Riley; D: James.