Basketball

Kimberly Papermakers hold off Kaukauna

KAUKAUNA – From Laconia to Waupun to Kimberly, Lucky Wurtz has been a fan of every single one of the teams that he has coached.

But this year’s collection of athletes? He remembers admitting to his assistants this past summer that he really likes the 2016-17 version of the Papermakers.

“This team,” Wurtz said. “I told them we have some height and we got to get some things to work for us, but if we do we could be really, really good. It’s not all the way there yet, but it’s coming.”

The Papermakers took another step toward that arrival date with a gutty 66-63 victory over arch-rival Kaukauna in a critical Fox Valley Association matchup Tuesday.

Kimberly (7-0, 4-0 FVA), the fourth-ranked team in Division 1 by wissports.net, survived a sensational night from Kaukauna junior point guard Jordan McCabe. McCabe erupted for 46 points and put the Ghosts on his back in helping Kaukauna erase a 14-point first-half deficit.

The West Virginia recruit hit 11 3-pointers and almost willed his team to the win late.

With 3.7 seconds left, Eric Carl took the inbounds pass from Bailey McDaniel, then made a short pass to a hustling McCabe, who split through a pair of defenders around midcourt and lofted a shot from about four feet beyond the arc. The ball caromed off the back of the iron as Kimberly and its student section erupted in celebration as time expired.

“I breathed a big sigh of relief,” Wurtz said. “Kaukauna is so well-coached and McCabe put on a clinic and we somehow came out on top.”

Said McCabe: “That was something we work on on a daily basis because we know we’re going to be facing things like that, last-second plays and what have you. So, I got my shot, saw it open and took it. And just missed.”

McCabe shrugged off his 46-point performance, saying that wins and his team continuing to progress are what matters.

“The biggest thing is improving,” he said. “I don’t really care whether it’s 50 or 2 as long as we’re getting the win. That’s my job and I just didn’t do my job tonight.”

Kaukauna, which came in ranked No. 1 in Division 2, has had a buzzsaw of a schedule the past week including matchups with two Division 2 state tournament teams from a year ago, losing to La Crosse Central 92-81 before defeating Whitnall 84-57.

The Ghosts (4-3, 3-2) have also been without Adam Smith, their sensational shooting guard, who is out until later in the month with a foot injury.

“This is what we want in terms of scheduling,” Kaukauna coach Mike Schalow said. “Our two games down at the WBY Tournament (Whitnall, Central) were two teams in the final four last year and were great tests for us. We’re learning about our team. And learning about our team without Smith. And we know that time is coming where he’s eventually going to be back with us. At the same time, we’re finding out what guys can and cannot do right now. And the objective is still to go out and win basketball games. Nobody is feeling sorry for us.”

Kimberly struggled somewhat from the free throw line at times during Tuesday’s game, but also got critical conversions from Alec Rosner and Will Chevalier in the closing seconds.

Chevalier led Kimberly with 23 points. Rosner added 12 points, with Kimberly also getting a nice performance from sophomore Levi Nienhaus-Borchert, who had 11 points and nine rebounds.

“As a team, we just had to stay (in the game) mentally,” Chevalier said. “We fight through this stuff in the summer. We run hills, we do conditioning and that’s why we do that stuff, to fight at the end of the game and never let up.”

Kimberly…

…31

35

— 66

Kaukauna…

…32

31

— 63

Kimberly: Chevalier 23, Rosner 12, T. Johnson 4, Vanden Boom 7, D. Johnson 3, DeValk 3, Thies 3, Nienhaus-Borchert 11. Totals 22 14-22 66. Three-pointers: Chevalier 5, Rosner, D. Johnson, Thies. Fouls: 12.

Kaukauna: Carl 3, McCabe 46, McDaniel 3, Vosters 6, Kurey 2, Eiting 3. Totals 21 9-11 63. Three-pointers: McCabe 11, Carl. Fouls: 17.

Ricardo Arguello: 920-993-7191 or rarguello@postcrescent.com; on Twitter @PCRicardo

Xavier boys’ basketball featured on Varsity Roundtable

Members of the Xavier boys’ basketball team will be our guests today at 7 p.m. on Varsity Roundtable, our weekly prep sports program.Join host Ricardo Arguello for a fun and fast-paced conversation, and don’t miss the shout-out segment of every show. Watch live and chat in real-time on postcrescent.com.

Kaukauna’s Jordan McCabe reacts after his final shot attempt to tie the game Tuesday missed against Kimberly in a Fox Valley Association boys’ basketball game at Kaukauna.

Kaukauna’s Jordan McCabe reacts after his final shot attempt to tie the game Tuesday missed against Kimberly in a Fox Valley Association boys’ basketball game at Kaukauna.