Boys basketball: Vikings come back to win third straight regional title

By: 
Anthony Iozzo

Sophomore Brady Brusegar is fouled while driving to the basket following a steal in the second quarter last Friday in the WIAA Division 2 regional semifinal against Union Grove. The Vikings won 56-22. [Photo by Anthony Iozzo]

Stoughton’s third straight boys basketball regional title was looking unlikely in the final minutes Saturday.

The host Vikings trailed Fort Atkinson by eight points with just under a minute-and-a-half to play in the WIAA Division 2 regional final, but they tied the game to force overtime, then led the entire extra quarter to advance to sectionals with a 60-55 win.

“I don’t think anybody but the 15 guys in our locker room and the coaching staff expected this,” head coach Matt Hockett said. “We wanted to repeat the conference and three-peat the regional, and now we can cross off goals No. 1 and No. 2.”

Senior guards Ben Gerber and Shane Rowley were big parts of the comeback, along with junior guard PJ Rosowski sophomore forward Nick McGlynn.

Rowley first hit a 3-pointer to cut the deficit to five points, and after a timeout, Rosowski deflected a pass that was scooped up by Gerber, who was fouled in the process. Gerber knocked down both free throws to tie the game at 45.

No. 3 Fort Atkinson held the ball for the final 40 seconds but missed a potential game-winning 3-pointer as the game went to overtime.

In overtime, it was all McGlynn, who started it off with a 3-point play. He scored 14 of his team-leading 19 points in the fourth and overtime combined.

“The way he played in the first three quarters, he better come out and have the performance he had late in the game,” Hockett said. “He will be the first to admit he was not very good in the first three quarters but embraced our concept of ‘next play.’”

The No. 2 Vikings (16-8) held a four-point lead at halftime before the Blackhawks (12-12) took control in the third quarter. Fort Atkinson outscored Stoughton 18-4 to grab a 10-point lead.

“I don’t think we played terrible offensively in the third, but I do think we rushed some things and tried to get everything back at one time,” Hockett said.

Rowley finished with 15 points, senior forward Zach Krueger added nine and senior guard Zach Bower chipped in seven.

The Vikings began the season 4-7 but have won 12 of their last 13 games. With a conference title and now a regional title, the next goal for Stoughton is to get past Wilmot Union in Thursday’s sectional semifinal and earn a chance to make state for the first time in school history.

Hockett said that protecting the basketball will be key with Wilmot’s full-court transition style of play.

“Teams that have struggled against them have turned the basketball over, and ultimately, when Wilmot gets into a full-court transition game, they are very dangerous,” he said.

Wilmot (19-5) is led by senior forward Mike Stevenson (314 points) and junior guard Nate Hensel (300).

The game begins at 7 p.m. at Lake Geneva Badger.

In the other sectional semifinal, No. 2 Monroe squares off against No. 4 DeForest.

Stoughton lost by a buzzer-beater to DeForest last season in the sectional final, but the Vikings edged the Norskies in the only game against each other this season. Stoughton dropped both games it played against Monroe this year.

The sectional final is at 1:30 p.m. Saturday at Janesville Craig High School.

Stoughton 56, Union Gr. 22

The Vikings began regionals last Friday against No. 7 Union Grove and rode a 20-point first quarter to a 56-22 win.

“I thought our boys came out ready to play,” Hockett said. “That was a team that was ready to attack our second goal.”

The Vikings outrebounded Union Grove 36-10, including 13-1 on the offensive end.

The second-chance opportunities helped the Vikings to shoot 50 percent from the floor and pull away, even after Union Grove cut Stoughton’s lead to 13 early in the third.

Stoughton also had a four-minute dry spell in the second quarter, but Union Grove didn’t do much better, scoring just two points in that same span.

“We controlled the glass, but we weren’t perfect tonight,” Hockett said. “I don’t know if we could replicate what we did in the first quarter, but I don’t like going scoreless for quarters.

“We definitely have some things to work on to prevent that.”

McGlynn led Stoughton with 12 points and eight rebounds, while Bower added 10.

Rowley chipped in with six points and six rebounds, and senior forward Ryan Streich also added six.

Union Grove was led by junior guard Andrew Kazikowski with seven points.