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D2 Semi-Final Notes: Onalaska and Pewaukee pull away for wins

03/06/2021, 2:00pm CST
By Travis Wilson

Josh Terrian helped Pewaukee to a win over Lake Mills in a D2 semi-final

Fourth-seeded Xavier hung tough with top-seeded and unbeaten Onalaska on Saturday in a WIAA Division 2 boys basketball state semi-final, but the Hilltoppers of Onalaska would pull away late to claim a 66-57 victory.

Onalaska jumped out to a 12-3 lead early on, but some hot shooting from Xavier would keep the Hawks in it, and eventually knot things up at 13 with 7:57 left in the half when Ray Zueleger buried a three-pointer.

The Hilltoppers rebounded quickly, going on a 13-3 spurt to go back up double figures. Once again, however, Xavier would answer and by halftime the score was tied at 29.

Charlie Pfefferle was a big reason Xavier continued to stay in the game, as the junior guard had 15 points in the first half, making three, three-pointers.

The early part of the second half was back-and-forth, with several lead changes, but after Pfefferle tied the game at 41 on a pair of free throws with 7:57 left, the rest of the game belonged to the Hilltoppers.

Evan Gamoke made three big three-point shots in the second half, while Victor Desmond and Gavin McGrath started doing damage in the paint and Onalaska put things away.

McGrath finished with a team-high 18 points for Onalaska, connecting on eight-of-11 shots from the field. Desmond added 17 and Gamoke scored 13.

Pfefferle's hot shooting continued in the second half and he finished with a game-high 28 points, while Alex Sherwood chipped in 13.

Onalaska will be going for its fourth state title, as the Hilltoppers also claimed championships in 1988, 1992, and 2012.

It was a similar story we've seen several times in this state tournament, as third-seeded Lake Mills hung tough with second seed Pewaukee for much of the game, but a late push by the Pirates delivered a 65-51 win for Pewaukee in a WIAA Division 2 Boys Basketball state semi-final.

Pewaukee unleashed a three-point barrage early on, taking a 22-13 lead after Emmett Loew connected from deep with 10:58 left in the first half. It was the fifth made three-pointer of the first seven minutes, but the advantage was short-lived.

Lake Mills answered back with an 8-0 run and would pull ahead after Charlie Bender made a layup with 3:51 remaining in the half. The L-Cats kept the one-point advantage at halftime, up 31-30.

Things remained close after halftime, but after reserve Grant Horkan made a three-pointer 3:25 left to pull Lake Mills within 55-51, the rest of the game belonged to Pewaukee. The Pirates executed well down the stretch and Lake Mills went cold, as Pewaukee finished the game on a 10-0 run.

Josh Terrian led a balanced Pewaukee scoring attack with 13 points, while four others scored at least eight for the Pirates. Terrian also had 11 rebounds in the game.

Senior Charlie Bender claimed game-high scoring honors, pouring in 21 points for Lake Mills.

Pewaukee is going for its first championship after a runner-up finish in 2001, its lone previous state tournament appearance.

About the Author

Travis Wilson serves as the General Manager, Football Editor, and contributing writer for other parts of the site. Wilson was selected as part of the Sports 40 Under 40 list by Coach & AD Magazine and the National High School Athletic Coaches Association for 2019. The Wisconsin Football Coaches Association (WFCA) named Travis the 2015 recipient of the Dave McClain Distinguished Service Award. He currently serves on the WFCA Executive Board as the Website and Communications Director and is a member of the Executive Board of the Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association. A graduate of Richland Center High School and Mount Mercy College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Travis was a three-sport athlete in high school (football, baseball, basketball) and currently resides in Reedsburg. You can follow him on Twitter at @travisWSN.

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