Beloit Memorial rally staved off
Mukwonago's boys basketball team held off a rally by Beloit Memorial to win Saturday's regional final, 57-47.
"We withstood their run," Indians coach Jim Haasser said. "We dug in and did what we had to do to win. It was all about defense."
After Mukwonago took a 29-12 lead into halftime, Beloit outscored Mukwonago 11-9 in a physical third period. But the Indians, more accustomed to the bumps and grinds of stingy defense, remained patient and maintained a 38-23 lead after three.
The Knights allowed just two fourth-quarter field goals and kept hope alive with 10 makes of their own in the final period. But forced to foul, Memorial fellvictim to Mukwonago's fine free-throw shooting as Aaron Nixon, Nick Blohm, Dominic Cizauskas and Nate Tanguay combined to nail 15 of 19 free throws.
Beloit's 24-point fourth-quarter effort fell short, and the Indians claimed the regional plaque.
Tanguay led the Indians with 20 points, while Cizauskas (19) and Nixon (10) also scored in double figures.
The victory advances the Indians to a sectional semifinal at Burlington against Janesville Craig at 7 p.m. Thursday. Craig upset Burlington in the other regional final.
With both teams tense to start the game, the Indians took an 8-4 lead into the second period.
The Knights didn't get their first points until 3:08 remained in the period, an indication of Haasser's stress on defensive intensity.
Tanguay provided Mukwonago's offensive spark with a free throw and a long 3-pointer. The Indians dominated the second quarter, using an 8-0 burst on two Tanguay threes and an outstanding dish to Nixon for an easy lay-in.
Memorial's timeout with 5:25 left in the half didn't stop the surge, as Mukwonago rolled in 12 unanswered points before the Knights got a three from Brian Fisher.
Tanguay scored 8 points and had two assists in the period. Dominic Cizauskas added 5. Mukwonago's tough defense held Memorial to 8 points in the quarter, and the Indians took a 29-12 lead into halftime.
Craig (14-10) is fronted by 6-1 junior Jerry Ngobi, who scores 16.6 points per game, and 5-11 senior Troy Malmanger's 11 points per contest. The Cougars took fifth in the Big Eight with an even 9-9 record.
Should Mukwonago advance, it would head back to Big Eight country at Sun Prairie, but the host Cardinals won't be awaiting. Top-seeded Sun Prairie was upset by conference foe Middleton (14-10) on Saturday, putting the Cardinals into a sectional semifinal with Madison Memorial (20-4), which shared the Big Eight title with Sun Prairie (20-4).
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