I-S boys fall in sectional final
Record-setting season ends for T-Birds
By Greg Seubert
After cruising through the regular season and the regional round of the state tournament with an undefeated record, the Iola-Scandinavia boys’ basketball team needed one more win to make the program’s first trip to state in 14 years.
That return trip to Madison will have to wait, as Roncalli ended the T-Birds’ season March 12 by handing them a 52-45 loss in a WIAA Division 4 sectional final at Appleton East High School.
The T-Birds had advanced to the sectional championship two days earlier with a 54-47 win over Stratford.
Iola-Scandinavia’s season ended at 27-1, while Roncalli will face Marshall in a state semifinal game Thursday, March 17, at the Kohl Center in Madison.
Roncalli 52, Iola-Scandy 45
Isaiah Hoyord scored the game’s first seven points for the T-Birds, but that seven-point lead turned out to be the team’s biggest lead of the game.
Roncalli answered with a 9-0 run and the lead changed two more times before Luke Pautz, who had 56 points in a sectional semifinal win over St. Mary Catholic, scored Roncalli’s final 10 points of the half. His second three-pointer gave the Jets their biggest lead at 25-21. Brock Wester scored in the closing seconds and the T-Birds headed into the locker room down 25-23.
The lead changed hands seven times in the second half before Reece Stangel gave Roncalli a 41-40 advantage. The T-Birds never had the lead again, as Stangel’s basket started a 7-0 run that gave the Jets a 46-40 lead with just under two minutes to go in the game.
A pair of free throws from Wester with 1:06 to go cut the lead to four points, but the T-Birds never got any closer and the Jets scored their final eight points from the free-throw line.
Hoyord led Iola-Scandinavia with 14 points and Kaden Jueds added 12, while Pautz led the Jets with 23.
The Jets also held the T-Birds’ leading scorer, Parker Prahl, to eight points on three baskets and a pair of free throws.
“He drew a lot of attention and that’s something Roncalli’s really known for: playing strong defense,” coach Sam Bertsch said. “They were able to hold him in check.”
He said his team matched up well with Roncalli, a team that advanced to state for the ninth time since 2005, but has yet to play for a state championship.
“It’s two teams that can really play some great defense and really know what they want to try to get on offense,” Bertsch said. “They hit a lot of timely threes and it’s no secret that we haven’t been shooting many threes this year and making many. When you’re trading threes for twos, it can get pretty tough.
“We hung our hat all season on playing really good defense,” he said. “I still think at the end of the night when you look up there at 52 (points), we held him under his season average. Fifty-two points is not a lot of points to give up. We haven’t played much zone (defense) at all this year and when we went to that 2-3 zone, it actually slowed them down and they missed a couple big shots.”
Iola-Scandy 54, Stratford 47
Stratford trailed by as many as nine points in the first half, but cut the lead to four points and headed to the locker room at halftime down 25-20.
The Tigers took a brief 39-38 lead with seven minutes to go in the game and later tied the game at 40-40 before the T-Birds used a 6-0 run to go up 48-41 with just under two minutes remaining.
The Tigers also cut the lead to 51-47 with 18 seconds to go, but Iola-Scandinavia scored its final six points from the free-throw line.
Prahl led all players with 19 points, while Wester added 10. Ashton Wrensch led Stratford with 16 points.
Although the T-Birds’ season ended with a loss, the team also won a school-record 27 games.
“The winning percentage was great,” Bertsch said. “We set a team record for defensive points per game. That gave us a chance in every single ballgame.”