FC Boys Hoopsters two steps from state in sectional tourney

FALL CREEK - If there's one thing the Fall Creek High School Boys' Basketball Team showed in winning last week's WIAA Division 4 regional tournament, the 21st such title in school history, it was an ability to "weather the storm".

That's the way 6-6 senior center Jayden Fitch put it as the Crickets overcame a slow start in the first half to beat Colfax in the semifinals by over 20 points and held off a determined second half charge by Spring Valley to win the championship game.

"We just kept our heads and kept playing and doing what we do best," Fitch said.

Those good things included rebounding, defense, and scoring in transition. But it showed the measure of how the cool the Crickets were when everything that could have gone wrong from FC in second half against Spring Valley: seven missed free-throws, a technical foul, turnovers and failing to stop a hot shooter from getting Valley back in the ballgame, not having senior starting forward Luke Olson due to injury, didn't affect the outcome. SV never took the lead and the Crickets made the plays they needed to at both ends to win the title.

Now FCHS will take those qualities into this weekend D-4 No. 1 Sectional Tournament. Fall Creek will get home game as they host Clear Lake in the semifinals Thursday, Feb. 25 at 7 p.m.

The Warriors are unbeaten at 21-0 and ranked No. 8 in the state but its a measure of how respected this Cricket squad is that at 19-5 it received a No. 2 seed. The other semifinal pits No. 1 seed and No. 9 ranked Edgar (21-2 overall) hosting No. 4 seed Hurley (23-2 overall). The championship game will be played at the better seed's gym at 7 p.m. Saturday. All four teams won their respective league titles this season.

Fitch is FC's top scorer and rebounder averaging 20.5 points per game (ppg.) and nearly nine rebounds per game. Olson leads the team in assists. The Crickets certainly have the size with Fitch, Olson and 6-5 junior forward Soren Johnson. They also to get another top performance from senior guard Teigan Ploeckelman who's 24 points against Spring Valley was a big asset in the Crickets' victory.

Clear Lake has some height too led by 6-5 junior forward Reily Peterson who leads the team in scoring at 17.4 ppg. and rebounding. Their top assist man is 6-4 junior point guard Tyson Blanchard and their have senior Ashtyn O'Brien at center at 6-7. Peterson's 20 points along with 16 from Blanchard and 12 from 6-0 senior shooting guard Alex St. John led the Warriors to a 65-43 rout of Webster in the regional finals.

Edgar is the top seed in the sectional tourney and its roster is paced by a trio of double-figure senior scoring guards in 6-1 Drew Guden (14.6 ppg.), 6-1 senior Kyle Brewster (14.1 ppg.) and 6-2 Konnor Wolf (nearly 10 ppg.). Wolf leads the team in assists and the Wildcats' rebounding leader is 6-5 senior Brayden Baumgartner. Hurley is led in scoring by a pair of sophomore guards in 6-2 Eli Talsma averaging 18.3 ppg. and 6-0 Dominic Croci at 11.4 ppg. 6-5 junior forward Braxton Sbraggia averages 10 points and 10 rebounds per contest while Croci leads the team in assist with four per game.

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