Kettle Moraine boys secure share of Classic 8 title
“You’re still ugly,” the Waukesha North student cheering section proclaimed to the Kettle Moraine fans in the second half Friday night at North. The Lasers had long ago taken control of the scoreboard, and there weren’t many other topics worth chanting over.
Though looks are in the eye of the beholder, it’s hard to see a conference title as anything but beautiful.
Kettle Moraine seized a 40-15 lead at halftime, and though North buried 11 three-pointers in the second half and racked up 36 points in the fourth quarter alone, the Lasers never lost control in a 79-66 victory. The win ensured a least a tie for the Classic 8 Conference title – the first for KM in the 17 years of the league.
“Nobody can ever take it away from us,” KM coach Brad Bestor said. “We’re conference champions right now. Obviously our whole motto is ‘one more,’ and we’re going to be ready to go and get selfish with it (and try to win it outright Thursday). I’m just really proud of our guys, regardless. It’s the first time Kettle Moraine has ever been a conference champ in the Classic 8 in boys basketball. It’s a credit to these guys, the work they put in.”
Paul Miller, whose candidacy for the Classic 8 Player of the Year seems more certain with each passing game, scored 26 points, and Mitchell Oleson added 19 as the Lasers moved to 11-2 in league play, one game ahead of Arrowhead.
If the Lasers win Thursday against host Mukwonago – a team that topped Kettle Moraine the first time around – the title becomes an outright one.
“These are all really nice kids, but they don’t have to share this time,” Bestor said.
Kettle Moraine scored the first 10 points of the game, buoyed by a pair of Miller triples, and Mitch Pfeifer scored all 10 of his points in the first half as the Lasers built a lead as large as 26 points. Mark Becker was all that kept North in the conversation, scoring 10 of his team’s 15 points in the first half.
The Lasers forced 11 turnovers in the first half (16 total) and grabbed 9 offensive rebounds (16 total). Meanwhile, they shot 16 of 32 (50 percent) in that first-half blitz.
“It all starts with our defense; that’s what always gets us going,” Miller said. “We made shots, but it was all about turning our defense into offense.
“I think we knew even when we were younger, like in our middle school days (that we could do this),” Miller said. “I played in eighth grade on a team that took fifth in the state tournament; that’s when we knew we had a special group. That’s been our goal since we were freshmen even, and we knew we could get it done.”
North caught fire in the fourth quarter, shooting 13 of 19 and hitting 8 of their 11 second-half triples in the final 8 minutes, including a shot by Kyle Petersen bank shot at the buzzer. Petersen, who delivered his team’s lone 3-pointer in the first half for his only points at the break, finished with 25.
“It was a nail biter for me,” Bestor said when asked if he could rest easy after the first-half showing. “Obviously the (point) difference was too much, but they weren’t missing shots. Sometimes we were doing a decent job getting a hand up, too. It’s a credit to Waukesha North for not packing it in after being down that big at half.”
But even with the hot Northstars shooting, the Lasers were never seriously threatened. They scored 26 points in the final quarter when North notched 36. A commitment to the inside game, where Oleson recorded 15 of his 19 points in the second half, allowed the Lasers to stay in charge.
“These guys have worked for a lot of years, just to get better and more confident,” Bestor said. “Mitchell Oleson has been on varsity since his freshmen year, just been plugging away. He was getting beat up his first couple years, and now he’s seeing the rewards of that.”
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