Central, Aquinas, G-E-T, PdC all punch ticket to state tourney
Red Raiders end 30-year drought,
Blugolds were there last in 2013
STEVENS POINT, Wis. — It’s been a long time since La Crosse Central’s boys basketball team has been to the state tournament. Thirty years, in fact.
Saturday, that changed, as the Red Raiders blew out Hortonville in the second half to get the 73-60 win in front of 2,000 fans in the WIAA Division 2 section final.
At 3:15 p.m. Friday at the Kohl Center, the Red Raiders (22-4), the No. 4-ranked team in the division, will play second-ranked Kaukauna (24-2).
Wisconsin Badgers commit Kobe King scored 32 in leading the Red Raiders, who used an 11-0 run to open the second half after being down 29-23 heading into the locker room.
King scored 26 of those points in the second half alone, as Central led by as many as 18 on the unranked Polar Bears (18-8). Bailey Kale was the only other Central player in double figures with 11.
BARABOO, Wis. — A win away from qualifying for state, Aquinas had already played the upset card.
The team with a record just above .500 took down undefeated and second-ranked Melrose-Mindoro on Thursday.
After that, it was supposed to be an easy ride to the Kohl Center in Madison in the WIAA Division 4 section final against Darlington.
The trip to Baraboo, however, wasn’t quite so easy and it all came down to the game’s final 6.3 seconds.
That’s when the Blugolds held a one-point lead and Darlington had one last shot at the win – or so it thought.
Aquinas’ defense was smothering, so smoething in fact, that Darlington didn’t get a shot off and the Blugolds punched their ticket to state with a 50-49 victory in front of 1,800 fans.
At 6:35 p.m. Thursday, Aquinas (15-11) will have another gigantic challenge in four-time defending state champions, Dominican (26-1).
Alex Schulte scored 20 points to lead the Blugolds, who were last at state in 2013. Eddie Harwick added 15 and Zach Phillips scored 10 for Aquinas, which was up 25-22 at halftime.
MENOMONIE, Wis. — The No. 1 team in state kept rolling Saturday. A balanced attack with four players scoring in the teens led Gale-Ettrick-Trempealeau to a 73-60 win over Prescott.
At 3:15 p.m. Thursday at the Kohl Center, G-E-T (25-0) will play seventh-ranked Xavier (23-3), which lost in the state championship last season.
Chris Thompson scored 18 points to lead G-E-T, which was up 41-29 at halftime. Nick Wagner and Lucas Scherr each added 16 points, while Noah Hammond added 13 in the win.
WAUNAKEE, Wis. — On the other half of the bracket, Prairie du Chien got 21 points from Nate Banasik in the 59-49 section final win over East Troy.
At 1:35 p.m. at the Kohl Center on Thursday, PdC (24-2) will play fifth-ranked Waupun (25-1).
LA CROSSE, Wis. — Luke Reader had scored 16 of his 20 points in the second half in trying to get No. 9-ranked Bangor, fresh off a WIAA football state title, to state in boys basketball.
Down two in the final seconds, however, Reader turned it over and Barneveld sealed a 57-55 win in front of 1,600 fans at Logan High School.
Bangor (24-4) was down 35-23 at halftime, before Reader put the team on his back. He drained a 3-pointer with 16 seconds left to tie the game 55-55.
Barneveld (23-4), which came into the playoffs just out of the Top 10 in the state rankings, went up on an off-the-ball foul, then free throws, before the final turnover by Bangor.