Lena Stops Suring in OT; Peshtigo Clinches M&O Title
The Lena Wildcats don't know how to give up, just ask the near max capacity crowd that gathered at Lena High School Monday night. They witnessed the toughness of the Wildcats who found themselves behind after one half of play before battling back and sending the game to overtime where they achieved victory, 61-58.
Sending the game into overtime was Lena's Hunter Borchert who fired off a three point bucket in the final seconds of the game to tie the score at 53-53.
But that wasn't the only thing to cheer about in this one. Achieving his 1,000 point milestone was Suring's Ryan Mahoney who struck on a three point shot to surpass the milestone during the second half.
"Ryan deserves it. He's a great kid," said Suring Head Coach Jim Keefe. "He certainly can shoot the ball. I wish we could have got a win but I'm glad he accomplished this goal. But as a team we have another goal, that's to get to the regional championship."
What makes Mahoney's achievement even more special is that he is still a junior. So M&O teams beware, he's just getting started.
"It feels pretty good," said Mahoney. "It's been a long time coming. The team I have around me, whether the juniors or seniors or even the freshmen and sophomores, have all been amazing, they have supported me the whole way. I couldn't ask for better teammates."
The loss for Suring effectively bumped them from a share of the M&O title with Peshtigo, giving the Bulldogs the clinch they were looking for.
Though the game was a regular season conference match up it certainly did not feel like it. It felt much more like a tournament game, the fans in attendance made sure of that, cheering at a decibel level that rivaled that of a jet airliner.
"This game is invaluable to either team," said Lena Head Coach Jeff Heimke. "To have this kind of atmosphere here it really felt like a playoff game. The seats were filled the gym was hot and the crowd was going crazy. This experience will definitely help."
It may be the last time these two meet in the regular season but may not be the last time they meet this season as they enter tournament play.
It certainly isn't a long shot. Number two seeded Suring will take on Gillett in the first round and with a win will face the winner of the Florence versus STAA game. Number three seeded Lena will take on a tough Sevastopol squad and with a win will face the winner of the Goodman/Pembine versus Green Bay N.E.W Lutheran match up. So if both teams are able to secure wins in the Regional semi-final they will met for a showdown for the Regional Final. A match that could be one of the most physical games of the whole tournament for M&O teams.
But that's only a possible future, last Monday is history. A game Lena fans won't forget any time soon.
Lena had the last word and the first in this one as Connor Heise opened the games scoring on a drive into the paint.
Suring's Chris Geniesse who proved all game long to be a thorn in the side of the Wildcats let loose his first points two minutes in to tie the game at 2-2.
Ties and two point leads would follow for much of the first half.
Heise connected next and was followed by Suring's Mahoney who closed the gap to 1,000 to seven.
Borchert posted his first points of the evening on a layup for the 6-4 lead and was answered by Geniesse on another game tying shot.
John Christensen gave Suring their first lead of the night off a put back for the 8-6 lead. That lead was short lived as Heise worked his way to the arc, was dished the ball and fired in the first three pointer bucket of the game.
Borchert helped extend the lead with a hard fought cutback to bring Lena to an 11-8 lead.
At the 10 minute mark Christensen retied the game at 11-11 off a rebound score but Heise broke loose moments later for a 13-11 Lena lead.
Suring's Mitchell Stegeman got his first opportunity to do his part, connecting on a three point shot for the 14-13 lead.
Dalton Anderson was the next Wildcat to find his way onto the chart, hitting his first three pointer of the game for the 16-14 lead.
Will Vollmar sunk a close jumper to tie things up again and after a steal Geniesse worked his way inside for the 18-16 lead.
With five minutes left till the half Heise made it 18-18 thanks to center lane drive through traffic.
With the half entering its final minutes the Wildcats experienced a hiccup in power. Geniesse had everything to do with this lapse as he drew a couple fouls on his way inside. On his first visit to the line Geniesse went two for two. Moments later he returned, reacting his earlier success. After a couple seconds of play Mahoney drew a foul and sunk both subsequent shot. But it wasn't over yet as Christensen drew a foul next making one of his two to bring Suring to a 25-18 lead.
"I've been harping on our guys about shot selection," said Heimke. "It could have been better in the first half. They packed in real tight and made us take a lot of long jumpers. I told the guys at halftime we didn't do a great job getting to the rim. But then in the second half we did a much better job attacking."
Heise got a chance to fire off a couple charity line shots in the closing seconds of the half. Making both, he brought the Wildcats within five.
Vollmar struck in close again and after a turnover was followed by Geniesse on a triple to raise the Suring lead to 30-20.
With less than 10 seconds left Borchert drove down court and dished the ball to Heise down low who connected to make it a 30-22 game at the half.
After one half of scoring, the charts showed a shootout battle between Heise and Geniesse with Heise taking the slight edge with 15 points. Geniesse finished the half with 13.
Heise got the ball rolling in the second half with a long three point shot to close the gap to 30-25. A short while later Borchert showed off his finesse ability cutting through the multiple defenders in the lane for the 31-27 deficit.
Suring's Scout Gerndt got on the board next with a two point play and was answered moments later by Anderson on his second three point bucket of the game, bringing Lena within three 33-30.
Christensen made it a five point game on his next trip in the lane and was followed by teammate Mahoney on a three point bucket for the 38-30 lead.
The successful shot effectively sent Mahoney over the 1,000 point mark with 13 minutes left to play.
Christensen connected on one of his two free throws to give Suring a 39-30 lead. It would the farthest ahead the Eagles would get as the Wildcats found their composure and began exerting their will.
"I don't think we got to the rim as much as we needed to in the second half," said Coach Keefe. "Connor Heise and Hunter Borchert were tough. If we didn't score on our end they seemed to score on theirs. We had some turnover issues. We looked nervous."
Heise started the rally with a three pointer. Moments later Austin Lange found a crease in the lane which exploited for two more Lena points. Borchert had his number called next as he fired off a triple.
Suring's Caleb Lally broke the rally up for only a moment as he sunk a put back to make it 43-38 in favor of Suring.
Borchert returned to the arc on Lena's next possession, connecting for the 43-41 deficit and Lena's Levi Potter made it a tie game with six minutes to play.
After an Eagle timeout Mahoney retook the lead on a lane drive. Lange ensured that the lead would not build, sinking two free throws to return Lena to the tie.
Geniesse hit on a charity line shot followed by Heise on two line points as Lena returned to the lead 47-46.
At this point the fans could hardly contain themselves. By the time they took their seats after rising in celebration they were brought back to their feet again. Mahoney brought Suring to a 52-47 lead with a minute and half left.
After the Eagles had burned up a bit of clock Lena had the ball back in their hands. With 15 seconds left Heise connected on a triple to make it 52-50 in favor of the Eagles.
Geniesse was fouled going into the lane next. He made one of his two shots to give Suring a three point lead with five seven seconds remaining. Good enough for the win, right? Wrong.
After inbounding the ball, the Wildcats set up around the arc as those final seconds began to disappear. Wide open on the center left of the arc was Borchert who was ready for the dish. It came his way, he reeled back and fired. You could almost hear the fans in attendance draw a collective deep breathe as it fell nearly silent in the gym. The ball looked true, stayed true and was true as it swished through the hoop to the wild uproar of the fans. Tie game with 1.9 seconds remaining.
"I knew we were short on time and needed to get a shot off," said Borchert. "I knew I was deeper than I wanted to be, but I let it off and just thought, don't miss. It's not every day you get an opportunity like this, it feels great."
After a quick half court attempt that was almost on target the teams prepared for overtime.
"We played in Oneida last week and erased an 11 point debt with 58 seconds to go and forced overtime. Our guys never quit, it doesn't matter what the score is. It's been a long year."
As it was in the first and second halves Heise had first word in overtime, driving in for two points. Lena grabbed a quick steal and passed to Borchert who went inside for the 57-53 lead.
With two minutes left in overtime Mahoney hit on a three pointer to make it 57-56.
Heise struck next on a layup and struck again moments later when he fired off two free points for the 61-56 lead.
Mahoney hit on two free throws to end the game's scoring at 61-58.
"In a game like this, one possession and few free throws can really make a difference," said Keefe. "If we made all our free throws I think we win in regulation. If I had to point to something that cost us the game it was free throws and turnovers."
Heise bagged top scoring honors with an overwhelming 32 points while Borchert added on 19 clutch points. Anderson posted six on the night.
"Even though we lost it's a great experience going into the tournament," said Keefe. "I'm sure the games down the road are going to be tough. I told the kids there has to be something you can do better. Take this away from this game and do that thing better Thursday. There are always things you can take away from losses like this. Even just weathering the storm and getting up tomorrow morning and facing it will make you tougher. My kids won't give up they don't know how to quit."
Suring was led by Mahoney with 18 points and Geniesse with 17. Christensen posted nine.
Peshtigo Notches Key
Win Over Wausaukee
With an opportunity to earn at least a share of the conference title Monday night, the Peshtigo Bulldogs welcomed the Wausaukee Rangers to the Dog Pound. Senior night had some extra energy rocking the building, which seemed to help Peshtigo shoot an astonishing 64% field goal percentage. The Bulldog defense swarmed the Rangers, holding them to just 26% from the field, on their way to an 80-38 shellacking.
"We talked about it all last week as well that we want to go through this week feeling good about ourselves, fine tuning the things we need to work on, that way next week for playoffs we can feel comfortable," said Peshtigo Coach Nate Motkowski of the importance of these games before playoffs.
Comfortable seemed to describe how the Bulldogs felt all night. Ranger guard Christian Shigouri connected on a layup with 15:00 on the clock that cut the score to 6-4, in favor of Peshtigo. From there, four straight free throws from Peshtigo's Joey Bradley sparked a 14-0 run, all from seniors Bradley, Ryley Demmith and Justin Thill. Wausaukee's Tony Rollo ended the run with back-to-back baskets including a three pointer, but the Bulldogs answered with another big run. Holding a 29-13 advantage, Peshtigo reeled off a 10-0 scoring streak to break the game open at 39-13. With just one second remaining in the half, Peshtigo's Trent Carriveau made a layup to push the halftime score to 41-15.
Out of the halftime break, Bradley made a layup, absorbing contact and connected on his free throw for a three-point-play. Fellow Bulldog senior Matt Larsen stepped into a triple before hitting a short jumper to grab a 49-17 lead. Wausaukee senior Cody Renikow scored the team's first 10 points in the second half but after his long jumper, Peshtigo went on a run to enforce the running clock. Their 19-2 run pushed the lead to 72-27 which enforced the running clock at the 9:55 mark. Peshtigo went on to win the contest 80-38 in their final regular season home game in the M&O conference. With the win, Peshtigo secured a share of the conference title. On the same night, the Lena Wildcats upset the second-place Suring Eagles which effectively gave the Bulldogs the conference championship title outright.
When asked about how it feels to win the M&O title for one final time, Peshtigo senior Joey Bradley said, "I think it's a big deal, not only for us, but also the community. It has gone back for so many years, it's important that we close it out the last year that we have the opportunity to do so and give back to the community."
"I think any time you win a conference championship it's special, but to be back-to-back champions, especially to be our last year in the M&O, it's really special to us to be able to leave the conference on a high note," said Coach Motkowski of their conference championship.
On senior night, four seniors led the Bulldogs: Joey Bradley paced the attack with 19 points, Matt Larsen added 17, Ryley Demmith pitched in with 10 and Justin Thill scored eight.
"It feels good, but it wasn't just me, I got a lot of passes from my fellow seniors and teammates and it feels good to come together and get a big win," said Bradley of leading the team in scoring on senior night.
Cody Renikow led Wausaukee with 15 points, Tony Rollo chipped in with six and Kyle Struve and Aiden Shaw each finished with three.
As the Peshtigo Bulldogs traveled to Niagara Thursday night to take on the Badgers, Peshtigo's offense was in full swing. The Bulldogs put up 42 points in the first half, only to out-do themselves in the second half by scoring 48. Peshtigo won the contest 90-59 behind their biggest offensive output of the season.
Ryley Demmith paced the Bulldogs with a game-high 25 points, Joey Bradley pitched in with 14 points, and Cole Tackmier finished the night with 13 points. Niagara's Ethan Blagec piled up 24 points, Jacob Bousley added 16 and Kalvin Jeffords chipped in eight.
"We played really well for the first eight minutes." Niagara Head Coach James Hoogland added, "Then Peshtigo turned up the defensive pressure. We started to turn the ball over and got impatient on offense. They used their size and pounded the ball inside. However, we did alright on the boards."
The Oneida Nation Thunderhawks welcomed the Niagara Badgers to town Monday night in a matchup of M&O squads. Oneida jumped all over Niagara in the first half opening a 36-19 lead at halftime. In the second half, the Thunderhawks never let up, on their way to a 73-46 victory.
Oneida's Jonathan Massey led all scorers with 24 points, Richard Summers added 12, and Melvin Matson finished with 10. For Niagara, Ethan Blagec paced the attack with 12 points, Alex Hagerty chipped in with 10 and Austin Hagerty ended with nine.
Crivitz Cruises To
Win Over Coleman
The Crivitz Wolverines hosted the Coleman Cougars Thursday night, taking down the invading Cougar forces 72-45.
This one was just about wrapped up in after one half of play as the Wolverines, behind and eight point and seven point performance by Kershaw Stumbris and Jakob Voss respectively, helped to propel the Wolverines to a 35-19 lead.
Voss continued a hot night of shooting with another 10 points over the second half, which included a behind the arc bucket.
Coleman's Cole Woulf led the Cougars with 14 points while Austin Tachick chipped in 10 to the effort.
Voss took the evening's top scoring honors with 17 points. Stumbris added 13 to the total while Travis Gives worked out 12 points.
Lena Takes Close
Win Over STAA
The Lena Wildcats were able to secure a home court win over the visiting St. Thomas Aquinas Cavaliers Thursday night 72-68.
Though the Wildcats were the eventual winners of the match up, the Cavaliers didn't make it easy for them, exiting the first half with the lead 36-29.
But containing two thousand point scorers is easier said than done, Connor Heise and Hunter Borchert proved that with huge second halves. Heise battled his way to 16 second half points while Borchert added up another 13 points to his total.
After the second half buzzer sounded the Wildcats had outscored the Cavaliers 43-32.
Heise was the evening's top performer with 28 points to his name. Borchert tacked on 21 while Riley Marquardt got eight.
Tyler Stuart had an exemplary night for the Cavalier, hitting on five threes to build up a 27 point total. Jack Farley posted 16 while Christian Hornick added 11.
The Wausaukee Rangers and Gillett Tigers faced off in Wausaukee Thursday night for a battle of the M&O cellar and after two halves of play the Rangers had established dominance, 68-33.
It was Matthew Delfosse night as he had his number called more than once, hitting on 11 shots over the first to build up a 20 point first half total.
At the half Wausaukee led 35-19.
Delfosse earned top scoring honors with 24 points and was followed by Cody Renikow with 14 points. Tony Rollo posted 13 points.
Cody Long led the Tigers with 10 points while Logan Krause, Grant Sexton and Ben Fenwick all chipped in five to the effort.
Oneida for Close Win
The Suring Eagles had their hands full with the Oneida Nation Thunderhawks last Thursday as they slipped by the Thunderhawks 49-47.
Chris Geniesse and Ryan Mahoney helped to build a 21-18 lead over the first as both combined for 15 points.
Oneida's Johnathan Massay added up 13 points over the first.
Massay shared top scoring honors with Suring's Mahoney. Both posted 21 points.
Following Mahoney on the Suring charts were Geniesse with 13 points and John Christensen with seven.
Oneida's Seth Charles scored eight while Elijah Metoxen added seven.
In Win Over Gillett
The Crivitz Wolverines had no issues getting past the home court Gillett Tigers Monday night as they handedly defeated the Tigers 71-36.
Jaden Werner, Jakob Voss and Travis Giese all did their part in building a sizable 29-19 first half lead. Giese put in seven points, Werner eight, while Voss bagged another 10 for the Wolverines.
Gillett's Adam Adarman posted eight first half points. He went on to lead the Tigers with 10 and was followed by Logan Krause, Cole Long and Ben Frank with six points each.
Voss led all scorers with 16 total points while Giese followed up with 15. Charlie Johnsen added 13 points.
By Four At STAA
The Coleman Cougars were able to post a close 59-55 win over the St. Thomas Aquinas Academy Cavaliers last Monday.
Austin Marquardt went off on a three point rally over the first, sinking three triples while Cole Woulf worked the inside for nine additional points.
Jack Farley kept the Cavaliers close over the first with his 10 points while Tyler Stuart hit on one three and a single two point bucket.
Stuart opened the game up over the second when he connected on four three point buckets. But Woulf wasn't ready to let up as he found his way to 12 more Coleman points.
Woulf was the evening's top performer with 21 points. Marquardt chipped in 14 while Aaron Fraiser and Austin Seefeldt both got five.
Stuart led the Cavaliers with 17 points while Christian Hornick followed up with 14. Farley ended the evening with 12 points.
Friday evening the St. Thomas Aquinas Academy Cavaliers traveled to Gillett to take on the Tigers. With all five starters scoring 14 or more points, STAA opened a 38-21 lead at halftime, before holding Gillett to just nine second-half points to win the game, 78-30.
Cavalier Jack Farley led all scorers with 17 points, Christian Hornick was close behind with 16, Eric Powers registered 15, and Tyler Stuart and Jordan Bourdelais each finished with 14.
Gillett's Logan Krause led the team with 15 points, Cole Long added six and Ben Frank chipped in with five.
Recent stories, opinions and photos