Blair-Taylor ends T-Birds’ season
Iola-Scandinavia can’t hold early lead
By Greg Seubert
A promising start led to a disappointing end for the Iola-Scandinavia boys’ basketball team.
The Thunderbirds had a 12-point lead in the first half, but ended up on the short end of a 61-57 score to Blair-Taylor Feb. 25 in a WIAA Division 4 sectional semifinal on the Wildcats’ home court.
Iola-Scandinavia saw its season end with a 14-4 record, while Blair-Taylor improved to 23-1 and will face Luther Saturday, Feb. 27, in a sectional final.
A basket from Parker Prahl gave the T-Birds their biggest lead – 21-9 – midway through the first half.
However, the Wildcats held Iola-Scandinavia without a basket for the rest of the half and went on a 20-5 run to take a 29-26 lead into the locker room at halftime.
Matthew Waldera’s free throw gave Blair-Taylor a 44-34 lead with just over eight minutes remaining, but the T-Birds eventually cut the lead to four points.
Tyler Thompson scored the Wildcats’ next seven points – six of them coming on a pair of three-pointers – that gave Blair-Taylor its biggest lead.
The T-Birds weren’t finished, as they cut the lead to a single point three times in the final 3 1/2 minutes. They never got the lead back, as the Wildcats answered with baskets or free throws.
“For a while there, you’d think we were knocked out, but we came back,” coach Sam Bertsch said. “It was a pretty good game, it really was.”
Prahl led all scorers with 20 points, while Brye Hardel and Marcus Jaworski also finished in double figures with 14 and 10, respectively.
Waldera led the Wildcats with 18 points and Thompson connected on five three-pointers and finished with 16 points. Alec Reismann added 11 points and Kyle Steien, who scored 30 and 27 points in Blair-Taylor’s two previous tournament games, scored 10.
“It’s great to be here at sectionals,” Bertsch said. “We lost to a tremendous team. I’m proud of the guys and proud of the season we had.”
Bertsch said he’s happy basketball teams are able to play after having their 2019-20 seasons cut short last spring due to COVID-19 concerns. The T-Birds had advanced to a Division 4 sectional final and were one win away from the program’s first trip to state since 2008.
“I think you have to thank the WIAA for letting us play,” he said. “Once everybody got in the gym and went with the protocols, the players and coaches needed it. It was a dose of medicine that made us feel better.”