Carson Koepnick nailed three 3-pointers and scored 26 points in leading the West Salem High School boys basketball team to the state championship for the first time in school history.
The top-ranked Panthers, making their first-ever state appearance, beat No. 5 Brillion 71-61 in the Division 3 Semifinals on Thursday at the Kohl Center, where the state tournament returned for the first time in three seasons.
Keopnick scored 18 of those 26 in the second half, going 11 of 20 from the field, including 3-for-7 from beyond the arc.
West Salem (23-1) will play at 2:30 p.m. Saturday against second-ranked Lake County Lutheran (27-2), which beat No. 4 St. Thomas More (25-4) 70-43. In Division 1, top-ranked Central (27-1) will open the tournament against fourth-ranked Westosha Central (25-2) around 8 p.m.
In the semifinal between Brillion (26-2) and West Salem, neither team shot well. West Salem shot just 35.2% from the field and only 14 of 26 from the free-throw line but managed to grab a ridiculous 24 offensive rebounds to Brillion’s eight.
West Salem, up 30-21 at hafltime, outscored Brillion 20-14 on second-chance points and had a 48-36 rebounding advantage.
Brett McConkey added 14 points and 14 rebounds — eight of those on the offensive end — and teammate Peter Lattos had 10 points, 12 rebounds for the Panthers.
Some of West Salem’s poor shooting percentage did have something to do with the nine blocked shots by Brillion’s Jeremy Lorenz, setting a Division 3 record.