|3/8/2018 2:21:00 PM|
Eagles thump Vikings for Regional title
Pecatonica boys basketball fans who had a nervous feeling about playing the defending WIAA D-5 state champion Barneveld Eagles a third time this season Saturday- and in a 'winner-move-on/lose-and-go-home' setting - saw their fears quickly substantiated.
Coach Tyler Sullivan's Eagles had split with coach Matt Fink's Vikings during regular season match-ups and the squads from neighboring school districts had shared the 2017-2018 Six Rivers Conference Eastern Division championship.
Eagles players quickly put any doubts to rest about which was the better team on this particular night, rolling to a 20-6 lead over the first nine minutes and just as impressively, held the Vikings without a single conventional two point basket in nearly the same time frame.
A suffocating match-up zone defense with four players collapsing on the lane anytime Pec players were able to locate a teammate inside the paint, took a toll on any interior play hopes for Pecatonica. The Vikings were able, on occasion, to get off three point shot attempts, but too often they were off their mark or shots were hurried.
Jacob Slaney, a 6'2" Barneveld senior scored three of his team's first six baskets, 6'5" senior classmate Malcolm Reed added a pair of buckets and when sharpshooting 6'1" senior Jonas Ignatius nailed back-to-back treys, the Eagles led 20-6.
Later, after a lefthanded hoop in the lane by Reed, a shovel basket by Slaney, Kauy Fargo's jump shot hoop and a six foot jumper by Slaney, the Eagles held a 20 point lead at 36-16.
Coming out of intermission where they had left off, Reed and Slaney scored quick baskets, Ignatius scored on a pair of free throws and when Fargo nailed a 14 footer in the paint, Barneveld had expanded its margin of lead to 26.
Slaney came gliding across the lane on a swooping hoop at the 11 minute mark, Fargo scored on an easy layup, off a creative Reed assist and when 5'5" Bryce Vacha scored in the paint at the 10:05 mark, the Eagles had extended their advantage to a 34 point lead.
Pecatonica 6'0" junior Colton Schraepfer and 6'1" classmate and teammate Everett Johnson hit consecutive 'treys' for Pecatonica and Johnson followed with two more baskets, pulling Pecatonica to 61-35 at the four minute mark of the second half.
Viking Zack Eaton had a pair of late free throws followed by hoops from Schraepfer and Joe Tisch, just prior to Johnson nailing his third 'trey' in the final minute of action, making a lopsided affair slightly closer at it's conclusion with the Eagles advancing to 'Sectionals' and departing Lafayette County on the heels of a 26 point win.
Also a factor in game was the inability for the Vikings to get to the foul line, although Pec players 'made' all seven charity throws they attempted. Barneveld players committed just 11 fouls over the course of the game.
Slaney paced Sullivan's team with 18 and Johnson's 13 points led Pecatonica.
For Sullivan, Barneveld's first year head coach, the regional championship game win was gratifying, in part, because it was easy to see the progress his team has made over time. The Eagles were defeated in their initial game with the Vikings, in mid-January in Blanchardville, on an evening they'd struggled mightily at the free-throw line.
"In that first game here we missed a lot of free throws and that's going to lose a lot of games for any team. Then, in the recent game at home, I felt we still gave up too many opportunities to them in the paint," added Sullivan. "Tonight, our focus was to try and take Evan (Prust) away from the high post and to try to contain Colton (Schraepfer) and to keep him out of the paint. Obviously, our guys did a good job defensively, and on offense, we really just wanted to try to spread them out and to take advantage of some mismatches we possessed. Tonight, for us, that approach fortunately worked out. I felt Malcolm (Reed) played really hard, especially in some of his isolation situations. Kauy (Fargo), well he is always is our team's 'rock', and I felt (Jacob) Slaney did a great job on defending (Zack) Eaton down low. And then Jonas (Ignatius) gave us a lift, hitting some big three-pointers for us there early to help extend the lead," added Sullivan. "Our guys really fed off of each other tonight in what overall, was a great team win. I felt that a lot of our guys figured out their roles early in this one and then executed well," added Sullivan.
Sullivan praised his team for learning in the face of adversity this season.
"We had a tough non-conference schedule so people will see, when reviewing our record, that we have several losses - but our goal has been to learn from those losses and the kids have responded. The kids have learned, have made adjustments, they've improved and that development has really helped us focus on what it is that we want to accomplish."
For Pecatonica coach Matt Fink, he was understandably disappointed with the setback but said it did not diminish from his squad's accomplishments of a season.
"This was a disappointing loss because I felt we were capable of playing better tonight than what we did. They (Barneveld) didn't really do anything that we didn't expect. I just felt they played at an outstandingly high-level. I don't think we matched their intensity," said Fink. "Their shooting was good, but that was just half of it. Their energy, their basket cutting, all those things they did was spot on and I give them credit. When a team like that gets a full head of steam, it's tough to stop them. Their zone defense gave us trouble, yes, but we allowed it to be successful. We tried to do some things, tried to adjust, but things didn't work out. That's basketball - we will hope to learn from it - for the kids that are coming back next year and it doesn't diminish the body of work all season long, the hard work and accomplishments that these guys had, winning a league championship. I want to thank our three seniors, Evan (Prust), Cory (Swenson) and Zach (Foster). They have been part of a heckuva good run by this program in being a part of a couple of conference championships and part of three regional championship game teams over their four years in high school."
In facing Deerfied tonight (Thursday, March 8 at 7 p.m. in Evansville), Barneveld faces the top-seeded Demons who sport a 21-4 season record. Of the Demons' losses this season, two were to Milwaukee schools (Milwaukee Marshall and Milwaukee Academy of Science); to a WIAA D-4 school, Palmyra-Eagle; and to a WIAA D-3 school, Lake Mills. Coach Dave Borgrud's Demons tied for the Trailways South Conference crown with an 11-1 conference mark, average over 70 points per contest and the Demons defeated Rio 65-55 Saturday for a WIAA D-5 regional crown.
Barneveld 70 Pecatonica 44
Barneveld 38 32 - 70
Pecatonica 18 26 - 44
Barneveld (fg-ft-tp) Reed 4-3-11, Fargo 7-2-17, Doescher 0-1-1, Vacha 2-2-6, Gordon 1-2-4, Slaney 8-2-18, Ignatius 3-2-11, Evans 1-0-2. Three-pointers: Ignatius 3, Fargo. Totals: 22 (4) 14-23 70. Fouls: 11.
Pecatonica (fg-ft-tp) Schraepfer 4-2-12, Swenson 1-0-2, Prust 2-0-4, Eaton 2-2-6, Tisch 1-0-2, B. Hendrickson 1-0-2, Johnson 5-0-13, Ruegsegger 0-3-3. Three-pointers: Johnson 3, Schraepfer 2. Totals: 11 (5) 7-7 44. Fouls 22.
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