FC boys' hoopsters two games away from state tournament
Pay no attention to that 72-55 victory over there.
If fans believe that Fall Creek High School's Boys' Basketball Team's win over Whitehall in a non-conference game back in early February means anything for outcomes in March, FCHS head coach Rick Storlie said think again.
Since that loss, Whitehall has not lost period and that's put them against the Crickets again this season in the semifinals of the WIAA Division 4 Neillsville Sectional Tournament this Thursday (weather permitting), March 9 at Osseo-Fairchild Middle/High School. Tip-off is at 7 p.m.
"We were fortunate to win on February 6th," Storlie said. "We led by just two points at the half. Then we were able to find some cracks in their zone defense in the second half, but nothing was easy for us. They were also playing without one of their top starters, due to an injury, that evening."
Fall Creek is 22-4 overall and will be playing to advance to its first state tournament since 2009 while Whitehall (20-6) will be looking for its first trip to Madison since 1986. The Large Dairyland Conference and regional tournament champs are led in scoring by 6-1 senior guard Devon McCune. He averages 17.2 points per game and leads his team also in assists at nearly four per contest. He's part of a talented backcourt which also includes 6-2 junior guard Brayden Lisowski, who averages nearly 13 ppg. Unlike a lot of teams the Norse have the height to match-up with Fall Creek led by 6-7 senior center Luke Beighly, who averages 11 ppg. and eight rebounds per game and 6-5 senior forward Colton Plank, who leads the team in rebounding at 8.6 rpg. Also in the Whitehall line-up is 5-9 junior guard Seth Lambeck.
It was McCune's scoring, particularly late in the second half, in the regional final against Durand-Arkansaw that blew open a close contest throughout. And in another point of reference, the Norse also lost a non-conference game to Durand-Arkansaw earlier this season.
"Whitehall is a very solid team. They have good size and can really shoot it," Storlie said. "McCune is over a 1,000 point scorer on his career and Lisowski has shot the ball well all season. Beighly and Plank go 6'7 and 6'5 respectively and will cause problems for us. Lambeck is a solid floor general and has done a really nice job for the Norse. Schroeder, coming off the bench, had a bi game in the Regional Championship at Durand as well. Olson, also coming off the bench, is solid behind the three- point line. We have our hands full defensively for sure. Their size also will give us problems offensively. We will have to hit some big shots to give ourselves a chance."
One thing each fan should know that every coach and player has to know about sectionals, to get this far there's a good reason as to why.
"Whenever you get this far, all the teams are very good and Whitehall has been very solid all season," Storlie said. They've won championships for a reason."
The winner of this game takes on the winner of the other semifinal match-up between No. 5 ranked and undefeated Unity (23-0) and defending sectional champion Cameron (21-5) in Somerset. The Eagles were perfect in the West Lakeland Conference and won the league by a full six games. But the Eagles only played three of six non-conference games (Prairie Farm-Mondovi-Spring Valley) and missed games against teams like St. Croix Central, Osceola and St. Croix Falls which could have provided a fuller picture of their prowess. But Unity beat a solid Cumberland (19-7) squad in their regional final and they have three players averaging in double figures in scoring: 6-3 junior guard Jaxon Tilton at nearly 18 ppg., 6-4 senior forward Wyatt Kocurek who averages 13.2 ppg., and leads the team in rebounding at 6.7 per contest and 6-1 junior guard Jacob Erickson who averages 10.1 ppg., nearly six rebounds per game and leads the team in assists at three per contest. Cameron finished third in the Heart O'North Conference at 14-4 but knockied off the team ahead of them in the standings, Ladysmith, in the regional final 70-60 last weekend. The Comets are led in scoring by junior 6-1 guard Tyson Lucas averaging 19.4 ppg., 6-1 senior guard Grant Patezoid at 17.6 ppg. five rebounds and team beat 3.5 assists per game along with 6-0 senior guard Zory Parker who averages 14.3 ppg. The Comets' top rebounder is 6-2 forward Brady Quinn at nearly 10 per game. Unity last made it to state in 2014, their only state berth in school history while Cameron is looking for its fourth state berth.