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Division 4 Semi-Final Notes: Mineral Point, Kenosha St. Joseph head to title game

03/15/2024, 12:30am CDT
By Dick Knapinski

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For the second straight year, the fourth-seeded Lancers knocked off the top seed in the Division 4 field. In 2023, St. Joseph took down St. Mary Catholic behind a state-record 51 points by Eric Kenesie. On Thursday, Kenesie had just 19 points and his team only 46, but the Lancers’ defensive pressure took out the Red Raiders.

“Last year it was more up-tempo and we needed to score more to win,” Kenesie said afterward. “This year it was all about defense so we didn’t need to score as many points because of how good we were defensively. It all starts on the defensive end.”

It took the two teams more than six minutes to put any points on the scoreboard, when Marathon’s 6-11 center Grant Warren put in a layup with 11:19 left in the first half. The Red Raiders’ only lead would be short lived, however, as Lowell Werlinger’s three-pointer less than 30 seconds later put the Lancers up 3-2. Marathon would lead only once more in the game, as St. Joseph used a 9-0 run right before halftime to go up 19-10 at the break.

The story of the game was the Lancers’ ability to lock down the Red Raiders, especially Warren, the Michigan Tech recruit who this season became Marathon’s all-time scoring leader. Warren finished with just eight points, although he did grab 14 rebounds.

“(The Lancers) play in a very competitive conference; in our conference, I’m the only guy with my type of body,” Warren said of the double teams and front-and-back bracket defense he faced all game. “That experience helped them tonight. They defended well; it wasn’t just one guy trying to defend me. They took everybody away and played really good team defense.”

Even more interesting was that the Lancers accomplished that with their starters playing the entire game until reserves came in for the final seven seconds.

“We did that one other time this season,” St. Joseph coach Jose Garcia said. “During one part of the game (Thursday), I went to one my assistants and said, ‘I really don’t feel like we should sub. Convince me that we should.’ He looked at me and he couldn’t convince me. So we were going to roll with them until we can’t.”

No Marathon player reached double figures in scoring on Thursday, as it shot only 17 percent from the field in the first half and 35 percent for the game (14-of-40).

Kenesie added 11 rebounds to go with his 19 points to lead St. Joseph.


Mineral Point calls the inbounds play “Pride,” as it’s from Clarke University, which has that nickname. It was one that gave the Pointers pride, joy, and thrills, plus one more game in Saturday’s state championship.

Landon Thousand’s three-pointer with six seconds remaining (see video below) that came from the rarely used inbounds set finished an 8-0 spurt in 69 seconds, in a game filled with runs, that lifted Mineral Point (27-2) to Saturday afternoon’s title game against Kenosha St. Joseph.

“We ran a play that usually we don’t run for me, but Coach wanted to get the ball in my hands,” Thousand said. “I obviously appreciate that, but I got the ball and my feet really weren’t set, but I was thinking, ‘Well, I’m going to let this thing fly.’ It looked pretty good and it felt really good and then it went it and I was like, ‘Wow.’ But then I was concerned about defensively.”

The Blugolds’ final pass skipped out of bounds with the wild final minute concluding a sequence that flipped a 7-0 run by the Blugolds (23-6), all of which came from sophomore Logan Becker, who finished with a game-high 27 points. With the game tied at 54 with 3:21 remaining, Becker hit two jumpers – one creating a three-point play – plus two free throws to put Aquinas up 61-54 with 1:09 left.

“Usually in that scenario you think about having to step up to the free throw line and making some free throws,” Aquinas coach Brad Reinhart said about holding that lead with a minute remaining. “You think about executing on some inbounds stuff and things like that, but until that horn sounds, man, you just never know.”

The Pointers gave their fans some hope on sophomore Drew Aschliman’s three-pointer to make it 61-57 with 22 seconds left, followed by a Blugolds turnover that led to an Alex Ross layup with 15 seconds remaining. Mineral Point then got the ball again on a five-second inbound violation, but was tied up by Aquinas under the hoop. However, the Pointers kept possession, which led to the final heroics by Thousand.

“We’ve had some comebacks and been on the other end of some of those things too, but in that compressed amount of time, no,” Mineral Point coach Dan Burreson said when asked if he had been involved in a comeback like that during his 29 years leading the Pointers. “I thought our guys just stayed within themselves and didn’t panic.”

Mineral Point led 28-23 at the half, but Aquinas went on a 10-2 run early in the second half that gave it a 39-36 advantage. Aschliman then hit three straight threes for the Pointers to put them up 45-39, only to see the Blugolds come back with a 7-0 spurt to take a 46-45 lead. The teams then traded baskets until the late Aquinas run.

Thousand led the Pointers with 27 points, while Aschliman added 17 including five-of-five on three-pointers. Eli Lindsey, whose brother Isaac plays for Wisconsin, added 14 points and a team-high eight rebounds.

Aquinas, which had won six straight games prior to Thursday, also got 10 points from Walter Berns.

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