Falcons fall in Division 4 semifinals
By Greg Seubert
A state championship was not in the cards for the Amherst boys’ basketball team.
The Falcons’ season came to an end March 17 with a 44-41 loss to Cameron in a Division 4 state semifinal at the WIAA Boys’ State Basketball Tournament in Madison.
Cameron improved to 26-0 with the win and will face Dominican in the Division 4 championship game Saturday, March 19, at the Kohl Center. Amherst’s season ended at 25-2.
“That type of game, you want to be a part of, but you don’t want to be a part of,” coach Scott Groholski said. “We had opportunities and just couldn’t capitalize. It just wasn’t our night.”
A pair of Tyler Biadasz baskets gave Amherst a 4-0 lead less than two minutes into the game, but a 15-2 run that included nine points from Peyton Dibble gave the Comets a 17-6 lead. Cameron eventually led by 12 and took a 22-11 lead into the locker room at halftime after holding the Falcons to four field goals.
Biadasz scored Amherst’s first seven points of the second half and finished with a team-high 20 to go along with five rebounds and two steals.
“I wanted the ball,” he said. “I knew nobody could stop my drive.”
However, starters Garrett Groshek and Colton Groholski picked up their fourth fouls in a 20-second span early in the half and spent most of the remainder of the game on the bench.
Meanwhile, the Falcons used a 10-1 run to cut the Comets’ lead to 26-24 with 9:10 to go in the game.
Groholski said the Falcons made adjustments at halftime to deal with Cameron’s 1-3-1 zone defense that held Amherst to four-of-12 shooting over the first 18 minutes.
“We had an offense that we put together a couple weeks ago to attack the 1-3-1,” he said. “Obviously, it worked. We were getting looks. The adjustment got us back into it.
“When we made the adjustment, it got (Biadasz) open more,” Groholski said. “He got his first two looks right out of the gate, but then they shaded him pretty hard. Ty’s a competitor. He got the ball and he was going to the rack. He did a great job getting their and he finished consistently. We just fell a little short.”
Amherst eventually trimmed the lead to one point five times in the final 5:45, but never tied the game.
“Obviously, our shots weren’t falling very well tonight,” said Harry Piotrowski, who came off of the bench to score four points for the Falcons. “We knew we had to get it inside to the big guys, Ty and Cam. Other things opened up.”
Groshek’s reverse layup under the basket made it a 42-41 game with nine seconds remaining, but Dibble broke free on the inbounds play and sealed the win with a dunk in front of the Cameron spectators.
He led all scorers with 22 points. Cam Gaulke also finished in double figures for Amherst with 10.
“We just ran out of time,” Biadasz said. “I’m proud of the guys for the way they fought. Free throws didn’t go our way tonight, but that’s basketball.”
Amherst connected on 15 of 37 shots, but made only one of 10 three-point attempts. Cameron finished 16-of-35 and made three of nine threes.
The Falcons also turned the ball over 15 times, including three times in the final 3 1/2 minutes.
“We had some turnovers and the ball didn’t roll our way,” Groholski said. “We had a couple of good looks. There were a couple of spots down the stretch where if we had made the play, the game would have turned.”
“Amherst played really hard,” Cameron coach Troy LaVallie said. “They kept coming at us. Ultimately, our kids never panicked. Even when we might have turned it over at a key time, we got a good defensive stop. When we needed a bucket, we got a bucket. We just found a way tonight to win.”
“The shots just don’t fall every day and that’s the thing about basketball,” Biadasz said. “No matter how hard you play, you just have to accept it. I’d like to play them again, but obviously, that’s not an option.”
“It seemed like every time we went for the lead or the tie and we missed it, it felt like something came out of you,” Piotrowski said. “It happened a few times.”
“We played great defense in the second half,” Biadasz said. “They made free throws down the stretch and we struggled a little bit. That’s the way it goes.”
The Falcons took a time out after Groshek’s basket cut the lead to one and Groholski said he regrets not telling his players to keep an eye on Dibble on the inbounds play.
“One thing I’m going to regret forever is I knew they were sending that kid deep,” he said. “We didn’t talk about it. They released him and there he went.”
“We run that every day in practice,” Dibble said. “It was just great timing.”
Piotrowski and Biadasz were on the Amherst football team that won a Division 5 state championship in November.
“Our senior class is a pretty tight group,” Piotrowski said. “Football, we loved doing that and we had the same goal coming here in basketball. It’s a little disappointing that it ended like this, but I don’t think any of us regret anything. It’s just sad that it’s over.”
“We’re all brothers,” said Biadasz, a University of Wisconsin football recruit. “We’ve had several runs through both sports. This brotherhood, it’s a special thing in Amherst. You don’t see it that often.
“I can’t tell you how much I love these guys,” he added. “They’re like family to me.”
“The guys have been great all year,” Groholski said. “They’re competitors to the end. I knew no matter what we were down, we were going to come back.”