Niagara Stopped Short Of State
Looking for their first state trip since winning the Class C title in 1979, the Niagara Badgers came up one game short in falling to unbeaten NEW Lutheran 63-40 in the Division 5 sectional finals.
Coach Jim Hooglands Badgers exceeded all expectations on the hardwood courts this year, putting together a 19-8 overall mark before watching it all end in Saturday.
We had a great season and I couldnt be happier. I really thought we would finish in the middle of the pack in the M-O and be happy with a trip to the regional finals. The kids really came together and we kept on improving as the season progressed, said Hoogland, who just completed his 10th year as the Badgers boss. We could not have had the success we did if it was not for the fine leadership displayed by our seniors: T.J. Liebergen, Colin Anderson, Zach Zychowski and Jordan Zawada. We kept on improving every week and peaked just at the right time.
Another factor in our success was the fact that I was able to start the same line up all year long. Sickness and injuries were never a factor. It was truly a remarkable season. A season that I will never forget.
It was quite a post-season run for Niagara, which registered a trio of regional wins then topped Almond-Bancroft 55-46 in the sectional semifinals Thursday in Antigo. Heading into the championship clash against highly touted NEW Lutheran, Hoogland and company knew they would have their hands full. And they did 63-40.
Displaying plenty of talent and height in the front and backcourts, NEW dominated the boards by a 42-29 edge to gain the state berth. Add in a 12-0 run to open the second quarter and the Badgers were in trouble. Big trouble.
Zach Walker and Jordan Zawada collected 8 points each for the Badgers, Joey Swanson added 7 and Colin Anderson 6.
Anderson and Zach Zychowski hit two buckets each in period one while Walker shook free to net 6 points in the second frame. By halftime Niagara was on the short end of a 32-25 score before getting outscored 31-15 over the final two frames.
Niagara totaled just 5 points in period three on a bucket by Swanson and a three pointer from Zawada. The fourth quarter was even worse as Niagara was held scoreless for the opening 5 minutes.
The Lancers got a huge game from 67 junior center Nathan Toenjes with 16 points, 15 rebounds and 4 blocked shots. Senior guard Travis Voight fired in 13 points and Dakota Zinser 12.
Toenjes tallied 7 points in the first quarter while Zinser fired in 8 points, including a pair of treys in the third frame.
Niagara made 13-45 shots (29%) while turning the ball over 17 times.
NEW is the best offensive team we played all year and do a lot of things well. In the halfcourt we were pretty even, but once they got running we had issues. I really think Peshtigo plays better all-around defense, but NEW isnt far behind, Hoogland added.
Niagara Knocks Off
D-5 Semifinals 55-46
With Zach Walker erupting for a game high 25 points, the Badgers overcame a rash of fouls to turn back Almond-Bancroft (20-6) in the sectional semifinals 55-46 at Antigo Thursday.
The tournament clash lasted 95 minutes and featured 48 fouls, 25 on Niagara, to go along with 51 free throws. Fortunately when the final buzzer sounded, Niagara was on top by 9 points.
I was not happy with the way the game was reffed. Even though it was fair for both teams, there were way too many fouls and free throws. Being from the M-O, our kids were use to a more physical style of game and had a hard time adjusting. This being a sectional level game, I thought a little more would be let go..took away the play of our press, Hoogland remarked.
The teams were tight to start the sectional clash as Niagara used fullcourt pressure along with three baskets by Anderson to pry open an 8-5 edge at the first buzzer.
Coach Hoogland saw his troops finally get a little more comfortable in the second frame, going on a 15-9 spurt to enjoy a 23-14 halftime spread.
With the score deadlocked at 8-all in period two, Niagara went on a 14-3 run to take control. Walker got things rolling with a pair of free throws before A-B regained the lead on a free throw by Evan Pagel 11-10.
The deficit didnt bother the Badgers, which went on a 12-0 run. Walker drilled a baseline bucket, Liebergen two free throws before Walker dropped in a layup for a 16-11 edge (3:51). Zawada stepped behind the arc to nail a shot and Zychowski added a jumper to double up A-B 22-11 (2:20). The final points of the half for Niagara came on a free throw by Walker with 1:48 remaining.
Liebergen snuck through for a layup and a 25-14 Niagara lead at the 6:51 mark of period three before Walker fired in a two-pointer and Zawada another trey to push the margin to 30-16 (4:30). A couple of late buckets by Pagel, including a trey with :02 left, got A-B within 30-23 at the buzzer.
Free throws were plentiful in the final 8 minutes as the teams shot a total of 28. Niagara connected on 10 of 16 attempts, including 6-9 by Walker.
The Eagles closed within 35-28 with 6:53 remaining before Walker hit on a layup and Zawada two free throws to pad the cushion to 39-28 (5:36). Another rally by A-B cut Niagaras lead to 41-37 (2:55) with Walker bailing out his mates again.
Three free throws along with a layup against the press put Niagara in front 46-41 (1:42). In the final 48 seconds, Walker added 3-4 free throws, Liebergen two charity tosses and Zychowski a breakaway layup to seal the win.
Ethan Yonke scored 20 points to lead A-B, including 13 in the fourth quarter. Pagel added 13 points and Austin Bunders 7.
-Division 4 Results-
Oconto Ousted In
By Amherst 70-50
Going up against top seed Amherst (22-3) Thursday night, the Oconto Blue Devils got off to a slow start and paid for it in a 70-50 sectional semifinal loss.
Oconto (11-15) trailed 15-6 at the first break and 21-14 by intermission. Both offenses came to life in the second half with Amherst holding a 49-36 scoring edge.
Conner Moe paced Oconto with 20 points and 10 rebounds, while Corey Herbert and Trent Mehlberg added 10 points each. Mehlberg, the leading scorer on the season for the Blue Devils, didnt register his first point until the fourth quarter.
Amherst saw Caleb Glennon tally 15 points with 19 coming in the second half. Glennon made 12-14 shots, including 8-9 over the final 16 minutes. Marcus Jensen added 15 points and the Amherst team was a perfect 15-15 at the free throw line.
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