A pair of Central Wisconsin Conference champions squared off Saturday, March 5, in a Division 4 boys’ basketball regional final.
When the dust had settled, Amherst, winners of the CWC 8, had a 53-44 win over CWC 10 champion Wild Rose.
The Falcons improved to 22-2 and will face 23-1 Marathon at 7 tonight (Thursday, March 10), at Wausau East. The winner will take on Oshkosh Lourdes or Algoma at 8 p.m. Saturday, March 12, in a sectional final in Stevens Point.
Amherst outscored the Wildcats 8-7 in the first quarter and used a 7-0 run in the second quarter to take a 23-16 halftime lead.
“The difference was a stretch in the second quarter where we had about five or six turnovers right in a row,” Wild Rose coach Jim Komp said. “That allowed them to establish a good working margin. That margin they established in that stretch was pretty much the margin that the game finished at. We buried ourselves in the second quarter.”
However, Kelton Dopp trimmed the lead to seven with a three-pointer at the buzzer.
The Falcons hit their first four shots of the third quarter and led by as many as 14 points in the period, but the Wildcats cut the deficit to 38-34 early in the fourth quarter on a Darren Hudziak three. Wild Rose cut it to 47-43 with 1:50 remaining in the game on Jake Thompson’s three, but the Wildcats never got any closer.
Wild Rose had defeated Auburndale 57-53 Friday, March 4, in the semifinal round, while the Falcons beat Stevens Point Pacelli 72-51.
“We had good intensity when we were trying to come back,” Komp said. “We cut it to four, but I thought we were gassed. Our kids gave us everything they could. We battled, but it just wasn’t meant to be, I guess.”
Amherst’s defense also kept Dopp and Hudziak from getting open looks.
“When you’re 5-9 and you have a 6-1 guy with arms, it makes for a tough look,” Komp said. “We didn’t get too many clean ones tonight. They’re the best defensive team in the state in Division 4 and there’s a reason for it.”
The Falcons made only one basket in the fourth quarter, but scored their final 13 points from the free-throw line.
Thompson and Brian Erickson teamed up to score 30 of the Wildcats’ 44 points, as they each finished with 15.
“I feel absolutely terrible for our four seniors, Matt (Roemer), Kelton, Brian and Jake,” Komp said. “You get a vision of how you want things to end up and I never thought it was going to end up like that. We really felt very confident going into this game.”
Jordan Lutz led Amherst with 16, while Ben Felckowski and Eric Martin added 10 each.
• One other area team is still alive in the tournament. Marion ((20-5) defeated Northland Lutheran 49-33 March 5 and will face 19-4 Laona at 7 tonight in a Division 5 sectional semifinal in Antigo. The winner of that game will play Suring or Green Bay NEW Lutheran at 1 p.m. March 12 at Waupaca High School.