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Division 1 Semi-Final Notes: Arrowhead wins 4 OT thriller will meet Marquette in finals

03/16/2024, 11:30am CDT
By Mark Miller

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Arrowhead 99, Neenah 95, 4 OT

Epic. Instant classic. One of the best of all time.

All of those descriptions apply for Friday's four-over thriller between Neenah and Arrowhead in the semifinals of the WIAA Division 1 State Tournament at the Kohl Center.

In what is believed to be the longest game in WIAA tournament history, Arrowhead finally emerged with extraordinary win, a 99-95 decision in a game fans will remember for a very, very long time. 

Arrowhead moved into the state-championship contest for the second year in a row behind 34 points and 14 rebounds from Iowa State football recruit Jace Gilbert (6-5), who played 51 minutes and 29 seconds and made 15 of 19 shots from the field. 

"Jace's ability to rebound is second to none that we've ever had," Arrowhead coach Craig Haase said. "Game in and game out, he takes a lot of contact, but he delivers. He always delivers."

Senior Bennett Basich (6-4) added 24 points and five rebounds. But the Green Bay recruit fouled out in the fourth overtime. Basich fouled Brady Corso attempting a perimeter jump shot and in the process got whacked in the mouth. Bennett had couple of stiches and had some teeth loosened, but is expected to play in tonight's title game against Marquette.

Arrowhead improved to 27-2 in large part due to the stellar free-0throw shooting of senior guard Sam Leoni, who made 12 of 14 tries from the line, including six of eight in the overtime sessions. He finished with 12 points, nine rebounds and seven assists.

"It wasn't my best game overall in terms of scoring, but I shoot free throws every day after practice," Leoni said. "I went up there with confidence and knocked them down."

Arrowhead was able to get stops at the end of the first three overtimes as Neenah had the ball with a chance to win each time. But the Warhawks' strong defense prevented the Rockets from getting clean looks at the basket as the clock wound down.

In the fourth OT, Arrowhead seized the lead for good after Basich scored on a basket in the paint 30 seconds into the frame. Neenah trailed by as many as five points, but the Rockets cut the gap to 94-93 on a basket by Justin Janssen. 

Arrowhead then got a free throw from AJ Ohrumndt to make it 95-93. Leoni then added two more free throws to finally settle the outcome.  

"Our guys right now just believe," Haase said. "We were down 12 at the half and we knew we had to play much better. Once we got a couple of stops with our pressure, things started the change."

Freshman Trey Resch (6-1) came off the bench to score 15 points and play strong defense on Neenah ace Brady Corso (6-2). 

Corso (6-1) played an outstanding game for Neenah, scoring 30 points, dishing out seven assists and grabbing seven rebounds. Moreover, the NCAA Division II St. Leo recruit ran the Neenah offense for much of the game and played more time than any other player in the game at 51:48.

Junior Luke Jung (6-3) added 22 points and Janssen contributed 18 for a Neenah squad that finished 21-8 after starting the season 4-6.  

"Our guys laid it out on the line tonight," Neenah coach Lee Rabas said. "On December 1, we got our backsides handed to us by Kimberly in our first game in our new facility. The growth we showed this season was just great. I'm proud of the fight our guys showed tonight."

Neenah played a near flawless first half in taking its 37-25 advantage. But the Rockets had some early turnovers in the second half and Arrowhead gained momentum. 

The Warhawks had a 70-67 lead in the closing seconds when Corso drove the lane. His shot missed,but was tipped by Neenah's Grant Dean. Corso, who had gone out of bounds, had the presence of mind to establish himself inbounds and then tipped the ball out the Janssen, who drilled a game-tying three-point shot as the buzzer sounded, sending the game into overtime.

Marquette 67, Kettle Moraine 60

Marquette took a 37-24 halftime lead, saw it dwindle to just three points a couple of times in the closing minutes, but ultimately held off Kettle Moraine to complete a 67-60 victory in the Division 1 state semifinals Friday.

Marquette, which won 15 state titles in basketball as a member of WISAA, moved on to a WIAA state title game for the first time in school history and improved to 25-4 behind 24 points from Nolan Minessale and 15 from T.J. Adams. 

"The hard part tonight was dealing with the delay with the excitement of the Neenah and Arrowhead game," Marquette coach Casey Kowalewski said. "We were able to come out with a lot of energy from the start and that helped us get the lead."

The Hilltoppers took a 37-24 lead into the locker room at half as Minessale had 14 points and Marquette had a 24-12 edge in paint points. 

Marquette shot 65 percent in the first 18 minutes and 62 percent for the game, making 24 of 39 field-goal attempts. The Hilltoppers made seven three-point shots, led by Ryan Meehan with four.  

Kettle Moraine fought back in the second half behind strong play from senior Will Stuckey and junior Roman Thompson, among others.

Stuckey, a St. Norbert recruit, scored 12 of his 19 points after intermission while Thompson drilled three second-half triples. 

French foreign exchange student Nathan Vuillaume (6-3) cut Marquette's lead to 58-55 with 4:02 left with a fastbreak layup, but Marquette responded with a three by Meehan to make it 61-55.

Kettle Moraine battled back again and cut the Hilltoppers' lead to 63-60 with 26 seconds left on a three by Stuckey, but Marquette again responded as reserve Peter McDevitt stepped to the line as a 53 percent foul shooter and calmly swished two big foul shots. McDevitt was the starting quarterback on Marquette's Division 1 state football title team last fall.

"Carter was in the game for his defense," Kowalewski said. "And he's a gamer as well. There was some concern when he got the ball, but I trust all these guys to knock down free throws."

Kettle Moraine failed to score on the other end and Minessale, a St. Thomas recruit, drilled two more foul shots with 12 seconds left to end the scoring.

"Man, we kept talking about wanting to get the tie," Kettle Moraine coach Brian Richert said. "We knew the first four minutes of the second half would be key after being down 13 at half. We came out fighting and it was hard to come back from that deficit, but we did. But give Marquette credit. They are a good team."

Kettle Moraine finished its season at 25-4 and set a school record for the most wins in school history.

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