PLATTEVILLE — The Platteville boys basketball team slipped below .500 for the first time since losing its season opener on Nov. 28 with back-to-back non-conference home losses to SWAL front-runners Cuba City and Darlington.
The visiting Cubans outscored the Hillmen 19–6 in the fourth quarter to pull out a 54–42 victory last Tuesday night at PHS.
Senior Zach Gaines scored a game-high 13 points and junior Ben Burkholder scored seven of his 11 points in the fourth quarter for the Cubans (5–1), who are ranked fourth in the latest Division 4 poll according to the AP and eighth in the latest D4 poll on wissports.net.
The Hillmen (5–7) led 30–23 at halftime, but went into a deep freeze offensively in the final 16 minutes, getting outscored 31–12 in the second half.
“We played maybe our best half of basketball this season in the first half, but we lost our defensive intensity in the second half and we didn’t do a good job responding to that on the offensive end,” said Platteville head coach Mike Huser. “They made it a point to attack the basket in the second half and they capitalized on their opportunities around the rim. Give Cuba City credit ,they kept coming after us.
“It kind of just snowballed on us in the fourth quarter. But that’s a good learning experience for us about how to close out a quality team. You have to get stops and you have to execute to get a basket on the offensive end.”
Free throw shooting was also the difference in the fourth quarter as Platteville went just 2 of 6 from the line in the final eight minutes compared to 8 of 11 by the Cubans.
Senior Jesse Gardner scored a team-high 13 points and grabbed three rebounds to lead Platteville in defeat. Senior Chance Kupersmith added 10 points and five rebounds, and fellow senior Blake Wagner added nine points and five boards in the loss.
Monday night was eerily similar to last Tuesday’s loss.
The host Hillmen jumped out to a 12–2 led against visiting Darlington and looked to be in complete control, but couldn’t maintain the early momentum.
But the SWAL co-leading Redbirds outscored Platteville 52–25 over the final 25 minutes to pull out the win.
Gardner scored on a breakaway after a Braden Nies steal to open the scoring, then after a pair of Darlington free throws Platteville rattled off 10 straight points to take a 10-point lead.
Delete - Merge Up Jason Withrow scored on a putback, Nies buried a 3-pointer and Kupersmith converted a pair of free throws before Gardner capped the run with a 3-pointer from the wing.
Then undefeated Darlington (11–0, ranked sixth in the latest wissports.net poll) went to a zone defense.
Darlington sophomore Chad Gollockson made a 3-pointer from the wing, then leading scorer Cole McDonald buried a triple just before the first-quarter buzzer to pull the Redbirds within four at 12–8.
Five different Darlington players scored in the second quarter and McDonald again beat the buzzer with a pullup jumper just before the horn as the Redbirds outscored the Hillmen 17–7 to take a 25–19 halftime lead.
Kupersmith scored all seven of Platteville’s points in the second quarter.
“Once they went into the zone, that really affected our rhythm,” said Huser. “We settled for some shots that wouldn’t normally settle for and that fed into their offense allowing them to get a few run outs.”
Darlington opened the fourth quarter on an 11–0 run to take a 47–30 lead and effectively put the game out of reach.
With the back-to-back losses Platteville fell to 5–7 on the season.
Last Thursday’s SWC game at Lancaster was postponed and be made up at a later date. The Hillmen will travel to Dodgeville Thursday night.
Cuba City 54, Platteville 42
(from Tuesday, Jan. 6 @ Platteville)
Cuba City 9 14 12 19 — 54
Platteville 15 15 6 6 — 42
Cuba City (5–1) — Gaines 13, Splinter 4, Burkholder 11, Denlinger 9, Droessler 6, Moor 9. Totals — 21 9-16 54.
Platteville (5–6) — Braden Nies 4, Cody Schambow 2, Jesse Gardner 13, Blake Wagner 9, Chance Kupersmith 10. Totals — 17 5-15 42.
3-point goals — CC: 3 (Droessler 1, Moor 2): P: 3 (Gardner 2, Wagner 1). Team fouls — CC: 16, P: 17. Fouled out — none.
Darlington 54, Platteville 37
(from Monday, Jan. 12 @ Platteville)
Darlington 8 17 11 18 — 54
Platteville 12 7 9 9 — 37
Darlington (10–0) — Schwartz 7, Siegenthaller 5, Johnson 5, McDonald 12, Muhlstein 9, Whalen 2, Fenner 2, Golackson 12. Totals — 18 11-18 54.
Platteville (5–7) — Braden Nies 3, Jason Withrow 2, Jesse Gardner 11, Blake Wagner 14, Chance Kupersmith 14, Chase Bellemeyer 5. Totals — 11 10-12 37.
3-point goals — D: 7 (Siegenthaller 1, McDonald 3, Golackson 2); P: (Nies 1, Gardner 3) . Team fouls — D: 16, P: 16. Fouled out — none.