There was nothing Arrowhead could have done.
Stevens Point overwhelmed the Warhawks boys basketball team in the first half of the WIAA Division 1 state-championship game March 18, backed by stellar 3-point shooting and the play of superstar junior Joey Hauser, and AHS succumbed to SPASH at the Kohl Center in Madison, 85-56. It was the Panthers’ third straight Division 1 state title.
Arrowhead, which was making its first trip to the state tournament since winning the 2010 championship, brought home the Silver Ball and finished the year 22-6. Point, which graduated Co-Mr. Basketball recipients Sam Hauser and Trev Anderson off the 2015-16 team, nonetheless kept its dynastic run intact, following through after downing the state’s No. 1 team, Oshkosh North, in the sectional final.
Sam’s younger brother had a lot to do with it. The 6-8 forward Joey, the object of many top-flight colleges’ affection, recorded 23 points and 15 rebounds in the first half alone, with three assists to boot. He finished with 33 points and 21 boards, providing a matchup nightmare that the Warhawks couldn’t account for. Making matters worse was the Panthers’ 7-of-13 performance from 3-point range in the first 18 minutes, including three makes apiece from Beau Rosenthal and Andrew Erdman.
"He's a multidimensional player," Arrowhead senior Alec Hamilton said. "I had to cut him off, but he's just a big guy. When I tried to cut him off, he posted me up. He'd skip it to other players, and they would hit shots. It was a tough battle."
"We tried to mix some things up ... changed defenses, went to a 2-3 zone, went to the 1-3-1," Arrowhead coach Craig Haase said. "It just wasn’t going our way tonight, and obviously, that had a lot to do with (Hauser). He's that good. There's a reason why they’ve won three in a row, and he's part of that, and he's got another year to go. It's a real credit to him and the rest of his teammates. When he wasn’t scoring, he was kicking, and they were making shots, and that was the real difference, that those kids on the perimeter made a lot of threes in the first half, and we just had no answer.
The Arrowhead boys basketball team receives its trophy for a runnerup finish in Division 1 at the state boys basketball tournament March 18. The Warhawks reached their second state-title game and fell to Stevens Point in the final. JR Radcliffe
"I was proud of the way we competed all the way through the game in the second half. I knew what the score was, and I know how difficult it is to play hard and with pride, and I thought our kids did that in the second half."
Facing a 48-20 deficit at half, Arrowhead’s lone bright spot was Trevell Cunningham, who had 14 points in the opening session and dished out an assist on the only field goal that wasn’t one of his own. Arrowhead missed its first six shots while the Panthers hit five of their first six to take a 13-0 lead at the 14:55 mark, and the rout was already on. Cunningham finished his Warhawks career with 22 points, six rebounds and three assists, and fellow senior Ben Seefeld added 10 points and seven rebounds.
"Trevell is the best point guard in the entire state," Seefeld said. "I’m fairly confident that Lindenwood is getting a steal with him. He's unselfish, he can get to the rack, high basketball IQ, he’s a team player, and having a point guard like that made my life a lot easier. It made me score a lot of points. He gave up points to get me points … it’s a privilege for anyone who gets to play with Trevell."
Cunningham, Seefeld, Hamilton, Marko Matejic and Tommy Durand served as the core of a senior class that helped the Warhawks advance on a late-season run that featured close playoff wins over De Pere, Bay Port, Kimberly and Brookfield Central.
"When we ended our season as sophomores, coach Haase pulled us together and said the next two years could be a state-championship team," Seefeld said. "When Bryce (Nze) went out (with injury as a senior last season), Alec especially and Trevell and I had to step up in bigger roles than we thought (we'd have to play). Stepping into those roles made us mature a lot more quickly than we thought. I think our maturity is one of the reasons we won. Last night, we were down 12, and the senior leadership with Alec and Trevell, we dug deep and never gave up. Maturing last year was the best for us, through the ups and downs. I would never go to battle with anyone else."
Seefeld called the experience the "best weeks of my entire life."
It’s the second straight year Stevens Point dismissed a Classic 8 Conference program in the state-championship game, one year after Muskego fell in the final, 89-64. Mukwonago fell in the 2013 state final to another three-time state champion, Germantown, by a 57-28 count.
Alec Meister, David Widenski and Jared Matheny all hit late baskets after benches had emptied, giving Arrowhead’s student section one last series of exultation in the 2016-17 season. It was a run that featured an outright Classic 8 Conference championship and a memento for the AHS trophy case.