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Division 3 Semi-Final Notes: Lakeside Lutheran, Saint Thomas More to meet for title

03/14/2024, 6:45pm CDT
By Mark Miller

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Out of the corner of his eye, Kaycee Guzman saw the help defense coming his way. 

So the extremely talented and confident junior guard knew what he had to do.

"I saw the help defense coming over so I knew I had to get the ball up high," Guzman said. "I was able to fade away a bit and get it to go."

Guzman's memory-making layup -- high off the glass to get over Kiel defenders -- with 1.5 seconds left (video below) gave Lakeside Lutheran a heart-stopping 57-55 victory over Kiel in a WIAA Division 3 State Tournament semifinal Thursday at the Kohl Center.

Lakeside Lutheran, which lost to 57-55 to Brillion in the state semis a year ago, improves to 27-2 and will meet Saint Thomas More in Saturday's Division 3 title game at approximately 2:30 p.m.

Kiel, which tied the game at 55 on a three-point basket from Jack Heckmann with 43 seconds left, ends its season at 28-1.

"The game kind of played out as expectations were heading into it," Kiel coach Marcus Rumpff said. "We have similar personnel with two starts and very good role players."

Guzman scored 17 of his 21 points after intermission as Lakeside Lutheran rallied from a nine-point second-half deficit to notch its first victory at the WIAA State Tournament.

Guzman got plenty of help from another underclassmen as sophomore Wes Rahn (6-7) finished with 20 points, 18 rebounds and eight fouls drawn. 

"Well, it was a game that probably was befitting of the state tournament," Lakeside Lutheran coach Todd Jahns said. "When you think about the game, you think about that last shot and how great it was. But we struggled for much of the game. The thing about our kids is they don't quit. They have a lot of poise."

After leading 27-21 at half, Kiel fell behind for the first time in the second half with 4:02 left on an inside basket by Guzman.

The game went back-and-forth a bit until Heckman took a pass from Arenz and drilled his triple, tying the game at 55 and sending the Kiel fans into a frenzy.

That shot set the stage for Guzman's game winner, a shot he won't soon forget.

"I had the ball and was thinking how and I going to do this," Guzman said. "How and I going to get through the defense? I just went into the lane hard and was able to get it to go."

Grant Manz (6-6) had 15 points and 15 rebounds to lead Kiel while Arenz had 12 points and Bradon Aprill added 10.

Arenz guarded Guzman on the game winner and thought he made it about as tough as he could on the final shot.

"Guzman is very quick and my goal was to stay in front of him, but he hit a tough shot," Arenz said. "It was one of several tough shots he made."


Underdog Prescott made things tough for Saint Thomas More throughout the first half, and the undersized Cardinals remained within five points at 46-41 with 8:45 left.

From that point, it became a showcase for the Cavaliers' impressive transition game. Saint Thomas More went on a 16-0 run over the next four minutes to salt away the first WIAA State Tournament win in school history, beating Prescott 68-45.

Several different players contributed in the Cavaliers' onslaught, but it was led by the talented duo of seniors Amari McCottry (6-5) and Sekou Konneh (6-9). McCottry had four points and two assists in the spurt while Konneh contributed 4 points, a steal and an assist.

"We battled and went toe-to-toe with them for 26 or 27 minutes," Prescott coach Nick Johnson said. "But they just caught us and then came at us in waves. They push the ball well in transition and keep coming at you."

Saint Thomas More improved to 28-1 behind 22 points, 12 rebounds, four steals and three assists from Konneh, and 18 points, 10 rebounds, four assists and three blocked shots from McCottry.

But while Konneh and McCottry rightly get their due praise, the Cavaliers had other players who also played well.

Junior Kenari Patt (6-2) had eight points, three steals and two assists, sophomore Brayden Alivo (6-0) came off the bench and hit two triples when his team was sputtering on offense, and sophokmore Omar Fofana (6-0) had six points and a steal.

"Any time I get interviewed, I always mention my teammates," McCottry said. "Those guys push us every day in practice and make us better. We have a lot of trust and faith in Omar and Kyle (Alivo) and Evan (Oleson) and Kenari (Parr). And Bryaden gave us a lift today as well."

Prescott's stingy defense limited Saint Thomas More to a 26-23 halftime lead as the Cavaliers made just 30 percent of its shots. 

But the Cavaliers got their transition game going in the second half and shot 68 percent with several highlight-reel dunks.

"I think we settled in the first half," Saint Thomas More coach Tony Mane said. "In the second half, we decided we would attack the rim. We got some stops on defense, made some adjustments and then our offense got rolling a bit in transition."

Senior Dallas Wallin (6-5) had a strong game for Prescott, scoring 11 points, grabbing nine rebounds and dishing out two assists. But went just 3 of 12 from the floor and missed all five of his three-point attempts. 

"It's crazy," Wallin said in the media room after the game. "I usually have the tallest player on me from our opponent. But with (Konneh) at 6-foot-9, it's tough to score when they have that size and length."

Promising sophomore Kobe Russell (6-1) added 11 points and four rebounds for Prescott, which ends its season at 21-7.

Saint Thomas More moves on to play in a state-title game for the third time in school history. The Cavaliers lost to Milwaukee Marquette in the 1994 WISAA Class A state final, and won the WISAA Class A crown in 1988 under the late Norb Wishowski, a legendary coach at the southside Milwaukee school. 

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