WIAA BOYS BASKETBALL: Falcons capture regional title
Westosha Central meets Wilmot in sectional semifinal
By Jason Arndt
For Westosha Central High School, the last time the boys basketball team captured a WIAA regional title was at least 20 years ago, and the top seeded Falcons knew about the drought entering Saturday’s contest against No. 5 Union Grove.
With the drought in their mind, the Falcons made an immediate statement, producing four extended runs in the first half to propel them to a 73-39 defeat of the Broncos to secure the regional championship.
The victory, which improved the Falcons to 19-5 overall, extends their win streak to 10 games.
Falcons coach James Hyllberg, whose team edged Waterford in a challenging contest Friday, said they came prepared on Saturday.
“They had a lot of energy tonight and they were focused on their game. Everyone came determined with the right mindset,” said Hyllberg, “I am happy for the boys, happy for the school. Its been 20-plus years (since the last regional title). The guys knew what they were playing for.”
The energy started early, courtesy of an 11-0 run three minutes into the contest, when the Falcons were ahead 7-6 to Union Grove.
Sparked by back-to-back junior Cooper Brinkman baskets, sophomore Jaeden Zackery followed up with a 3-pointer, before Brinkman knocked in another bucket.
Senior Tre Williams, who finished with nine points, capped off the run with a layup to build the Falcons’ lead to 18-6.
Brinkman, a 6-foot-4 forward, cited a mismatch in the low post along with the will to win as primary contributors to his immediate contributions.
“This is a different atmosphere, it’s the playoffs,” said Brinkman, who knocked in a game-high 16 points. “I came out right away and had a mismatch going on.”
Union Grove junior Riley Hale, who scored a team-leading 12 points, snapped the 11-0 run with a 3-pointer.
However, in the ensuing possession, Zackery responded with his own 3-pointer.
Zackery, who had nine first half points, finished with 12.
Following a Broncos’ Jacob Ross free throw, Westosha Central made its first of two 6-0 first half runs, when Brinkman drew a foul to send him the charity stripe.
Two Brinkman free throws, a 6-3 sophomore Dylan Anderson layup and junior Nic Frederick bucket built the Falcons lead to 27-10.
Union Grove cut into the Falcons’ 17-point margin with a 7-0 run, sparked by a Jacob Ross 3-pointer, but the Falcons responded with their second 6-0 stretch.
Courtesy of baskets by Zackery, senior Lucas Graveley and Anderson, the Falcons had a 33-17 edge.
After a Broncos’ Cole Beck 3-pointer, Brinkman capped off the Falcons’ 35-20 first half, when he converted two free throws after drawing a Union Grove foul.
Union Grove coach David Pettit, noting the post presence of Brinkman, the 6-5 Graveley and 6-3 Anderson, said the Broncos struggled with match ups and the Falcons 1-3-1.
“They got it outside, we just couldn’t get to their big guys,” said Pettit, whose team concluded its season at 14-10 overall. “We tried four different defenses to try to slow them down and we just couldn’t match up well with them.”
Meanwhile, for the Falcons’ defense, they limited Broncos’ leading scorer Jack Pettit to seven points.
Pettit, according to Brinkman, was the Falcons primary target.
“(Jack) can split the zone, hit a jumper, take it to the hoop and he can shoot 3’s,” said Brinkman. “But, we did a pretty good job of keeping him from doing these things.”
Hyllberg, noting Brinkman’s integral role in the 1-3-1, said the junior forward has come into his own.
“Our 1-3-1 was our spark tonight, then we had Cooper up top, he had a heck of a game,” said Hyllberg. “Cooper has been playing very aggressive and the key ingredient is that he is getting a lot of confidence.”
Westosha Central, which maintained its lead in the second half, advances to the WIAA Division 2 sectional semifinal against No. 10 Wilmot Union High School.
The Panthers, coming off three consecutive road upsets, is a team Brinkman takes seriously as they enter Thursday’s contest.
“We are not going to take them lightly, obviously we beat them twice, and its hard to beat a team three times,” he said. “They have been hot lately.”