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Pewaukee makes it three in a row in D2 with win over Whitnall

03/19/2023, 11:30am CDT
By Mark Miler

WSN Basketball Playoff Coverage presented by the Buckle Up Phone Down Pledge

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Pewaukee became the seventh team in WIAA playoff history to win three state championships in a row at the Kohl Center in Madison on Saturday, using the three ball and the all-around play of Mr. Basketball-award winner Milan Momcilovic to turn back Whitnall, 71-54. 

Pewaukee made 11-of-22 shots from three-point range and got 29 points and nine rebounds from Momcilovic, the 6-foot-8 Iowa State recruit who was named co-Mr. Basketball on Friday along with John Kinziger of De Pere.

"Pewaukee is a great basketball team," Whitnall coach Travis Riesop said. "They shot 50 percent from three and made 11 threes. It's hard to win a basketball game when a team does that to you."

The Pirates capped another memorable season by outscoring Whitnall 34-22 in the second half en route to their 27th victory in 30 outings.

Shooting 51 percent from the field and handing out 17 assists on 23 made shots, Pewaukee upped its defensive pressure after halftime and held Whitnall to just 32 percent shooting after the Falcons shot 64 percent in the first half. 

"Whitnall played a great first half," Pewaukee coach David Burkemper said. "But I think we were able to push the pace a little bit more in the second half."

Momcilovic was the catalyst for Pewaukee's second-half run. 

He went on a personal 10-0 run after Whitnall had cut its deficit to 47-43 with 9:48 left on a basket from sophomore Myles Herro. 

Momcilovic knocked down a three-pointer, put in an offensive rebound, made a pair of free throws and capped the spurt with another three-point basket to give the Pirates a 57-43 lead with 7:44 remaining.

"They played zone most of the second half and once the zone broke down, I just kind of took over and hit some threes," Momcilovic said. "Once I took over, the game was over. This is a really great way to finish my high school career."

Junior guard Nick Janowski (6-3), who finished with 20 points, eight assists and six rebounds, has been Momcilovic's teammate for each of the Pirates' state championships. He marvels at the physical transformation Momcilovic has made over the past few seasons.

"The biggest thing with Milan is the weight room," Janowski said. "He could always shoot, but he wasn't strong. He was scrawny as a freshman. It's a credit to him that he got stronger. He worked his tail off every day in the weight room. He plays the best in the biggest games. He's just awesome."

Like he has all season, sophomore Karson Osterman (5-8) once again provided the Pirates with a big lift off the bench, dropping three triples and scoring 11 points.  

With Janowski, Osterman, sophomore Luka Momcilovic and sophomore guard Isaiah Robinson forming a solid nucleus, Pewaukee will attempt to join Randolph as the only programs in state history to win four WIAA state titles in succession next season.  

Meanwhile, Whitnall returns a pair of starters in guards Myles Herro and Jack Lutz, who led the Falcons with 17 points and drilled four three-point baskets.

Whitnall, which finished its season with a 25-4 record, loses senior guard Austin Herro, who had 11 points, six rebounds, three assists and two steals on Saturdsy.

Austin Herro turned in a very strong senior season after missing much of his high school career with various injuries. His all-around play played an enormous role in Whitnall's highly success campaign. 

"It's been a dream come true," Herro said. "I've been down and out with injuries the last three years. I an just grateful to play the game for the full year. We proved some people wrong with our season."

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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