With seven players 6-foot-3 or taller, the Oshkosh West Wildcats had a definite height advantage over the visiting Milwaukee South Cardinals, who had just one player at that height.
Yet the Cardinals were the more athletic team, which made for a compelling non-conference battle Saturday night.
In the end, the Wildcats used a 12-3 run to start the fourth quarter and 21-6 overall fourth to post a 50-40 victory over the Cardinals.
It was a surprisingly clean game, with the both teams only committing eight total in the first half and 19 for the game.
“Our guys did a really good job of staying patient throughout the game. We had the tempo that we wanted, with a slower game, and our kids were patient on both offense and defense,” said Oshkosh West head coach Jason Fahrney. “We made a few adjustments in our zone. We knew it would be a four quarter game, and we hung in there.”
Andrew Boeder and Cole Johnson were the hot hands for the Wildcats. Boeder lead all Wildcat scorers in the first half with seven points, finishing with 12 for the game. Johnson hit five threes, with four of them in the second half, to finish with a team high 15. IT was a stark contrast from the first half, where the Wildcats struggled from beyond the arc.
“You just stick with it. Shooter shoot, and you just stay confident,” said Fahrney of the struggles. “We had the open looks and we stuck with it. With Cole, he is a very good shooter, and he came alive for us tonight and gave us a big lift off the bench.”
Johnson knew it was big victory.
“The screens worked real well tonight, the moving and separating,” the junior said. “I was able to get a lot of good open looks. It is a big victory cause we have been struggling in FVA games.”
For Milwaukee South, senior Shawn Luckette set the pace, scoring 15 points with a variety of shots, including a beautiful alley-oop dunk from guard Zephaniah Herford in the first half. Deonta Williams added 11 points.
Even with the height advantage, the Wildcats had to battle for everything in the middle. They showed a lot of grit and desire in the second quarter, when their big man, 6’8 Blake Derickson, sat the entire stanza with foul trouble. The Wildcats were able to keep Milwaukee South in check, and only a last second three by Luckette gave the Cardinals a 24-21 lead at halftime.
The Cardinals had a strong third quarter, moving out to a five point lead by the end of the stanza on five points by Williams and three from Johnny Benson. The fourth quarter, though, belonged to the Wildcats, with six points each from Johnson and Derickson. Couple that with an outstanding defense that held the Cardinals to just two field goals in the stanza, the Wildcats pulled away for the victory.
“Our defense was very good. I think we have been a good defensive team all season,” Fahrney said. Tonight, our defense was good, we made those zone adjustments, and we had guys step up, like Taylor Doro, who gave us some big minutes while Blake was sitting, and it was a good team win.”
Milwaukee South…12 12 10 6 — 40
Oshkosh West…11 10 8 21 — 50
Milwaukee South: Hereford 4, Williams 11, Tidmore 3, Luckette 15, Benson 7. 3-pointers: 4 (Williams 2, Tidmore, Luckette). FTs: 6-9. Total fouls: 12.
Oshkosh West: Stanek 3, Boeder 12, Sorensen 2, Johnson 15, O’Keefe 3, Doro 1, Derickson 8, Rodgers 6. 3-pointers: 8 (Stanek, Boeder, Johnson 5, O’Keefe). FTs: 6-8. Total fouls: 9.