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D5 Semi-Final Notes: McDonell Central and Newman Catholic advance to finals

03/17/2023, 2:15pm CDT
By Mark Miller & Dick Knapinski

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Newman Catholic's Thomas Bates drives in the Cardinals' victory over Royall

The top-seeded Cardinals had to put in a full day’s work to survive against the scrappy Panthers, who forced 17 turnovers and held Newman’s top scorer Mason Prey to just eight points.

“In spurts we played extremely well, but then we then had possessions that were not very good,” Newman coach Jeff Waldvogel said. “Some of that had to do with how we were playing, but much of it was (Royall’s) defense was tough and they forced 10 steals, which we knew was a strength of theirs.”

Newman (26-4) appeared to have things well under control when it dashed to a 17-3 lead, but Royall tightened the defense to climb to 17-13 with seven minutes left in the half. The Panthers, however, had their offense freeze up as they missed eight of their final nine shots of the half and shot just 25 percent during the first 18 minutes to trail 27-18 at the break.

The game continued as a grinder in the second half but the Cardinals overcame any threat to their championship game hopes behind 25 points from senior guard Isaac Seidel, including 10-of-11 from the free-throw line, and a unique 1-point, 16-rebound line from forward Eli Gustafson.

“We came into this game knowing that (Royall) was going to be a physical team,” Gustafson said. “We knew we had help off the ball and that we had to crash the boards.”

On the offensive end, Prey, Newman’s all-time leading scorer, struggled to get his shots against Royall’s defense and especially Panthers senior guard Bryce Olson.

“Bryce Olson is just a work horse,” Royall coach Scott Uppena said. “We had people tell us after the sectional what a great defensive player he is, and that’s something he’s shown us all year. With Newman, though, you have Prey and Seidel, so you have to kind of pick your poison.”

Royall’s last beat hope came when it pulled to within 45-39 with 2:36 left, but Seidel hit eight-of-eight free throws down the stretch to put away the win.

Conner Krach added 11 points and seven rebounds for Newman, which is seeking a basketball state title to go with its eight-man football championship won last fall.

Royall was led by sophomore Carter Uppena, one of two sons playing for their dad, who finished with 14 points. Carter is also the grandson of longtime Cassville High School state championship coach and Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame member Dennis Uppena.

McDonell Central's Eddie Mittermeyer celebrates at the end of the team's thrilling semi-final win over Fall River

The biggest shot of the game, while made Friday at the Kohl Center in Madison, might have orginated last Saturday at Amery High School.

Playing for their season and a chance to compete in the WIAA State Tournament, McDonell trailed Solon Springs in the sectional final by 13 points with under 10 minutes to play.

Senior Aidan Misfeldt (5-11) knew it was now or never time for the Macks, and he stepped up big, scoring a career-best 24 points and drilling some enormous three-point shots to help the Macks rally past Solon Springs in overtime.

Fast forward to Friday, with the game on the line and his team trailing 62-61 to Fall River in the WIAA Division 5 State Tournament semifinals, Misfeldt again stepped into the limelight.

His three-point basket with 28 ticks left provided the winning points in the Macks' exciting 66-62 victory.

Misfeldt's aggressive play the past two games is a major reason McDonell Catholic takes a 29-1 record into Saturday's Division 5 title game against Newman Catholic.

"Going into this game, I had all the confidence in myself," Misfeldt said while reflecting on his all-important sectional-final performance. "But honestly, I had even more confidence in our team. We've been able to work through things all year."

McDonell Catholic trailed by 11 points at one point and was down 32-25 at half.

But like the Macks have done several times this season, they used a second-half rally to go up eight before the game went back and forth the final two minutes or so.

Fall River, which won the Trailways West Conference title and completes its season with a 26-4 record, took the lead at 60-58 on a left baseline triple from Shavlik Schiultz (6-4) with 1:50 left.

McDonell came down and got a hoop and free throw from senior Canan Huss to regain the lead at 61-60.

Fall River, though, came right back and got a basket from senior Colin Vieth (6-4) via a pretty floater in the lane with 48 seconds left to go up 62-61.

Twenty seconds later, Misfeldt drilled his three-point basket to give the Macks a 64-62 lead. 

Fall River had two chances in the closing seconds, but Cullen Rauls missed a jump shot with 10 seconds left and then, after a McDonell Catholic turnover, Fall River had a turnover on an inbounds pass under the basket.

McDonell Catholic senior guard Eddie Mittermeyer (6-0) came up with the steal off the inbounds pass and made two foul shots to wrap up the scoring.

"We've run that play a few times this season," said Vieth, the intended target of the lob on the inbounds pass. "It's drawn up to pin one of the defenders in the middle and move another guy. It's a very difficult pass to make. It was open, but it is the fault of nobody that we didn't finish the play."

Huss finished with 21 points and 12 rebounds for McDonell while Mittermeyer added 19. Misfeldt contributed 12 and senior Keagan Galvez (6-5) had 10 points, largely on the strength of two three-point plays in the second half. 

"We have a resilient group and really concentrated on the defensive end in the second half," McDonell Catholic coach Adam Schilling said. "We made some stops when we needed to and were able to make some big shots."

Vieth finished with 21 points while Cullen Rauls had 13 and Schultz added 10 for Fall River.

"I think we saw two qualify teams for Division 5 basketball," veteran Fall River coach Arnie Oelke said. "Both teams had their runs during the course of the game. We missed our share of bunny shots. If those had fallen, you never now what would have happened." 

For the latest and most up to date boys' basketball news and recruiting information, follow Mark on Twitter @wisbbyearbook. Email story ideas, recruiting info, etc. to Mark by clicking here.

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