Too much Duane Wilson Jr., too much Diamond Stone and too much of Dominican in the fourth quarter.
That combination resulted in the end of a perfect season for the Laconia boys basketball team, which fell 52-39 to top-ranked Whitefish Bay Dominican in a WIAA Division 4 Sectional Final Saturday afternoon at Brookfield Central High School.
The defending state champion Knights (22-4) rode their two-headed monster of Wilson Jr. and Stone — two of the top players in the nation — through the second half for a combined 37 points as Dominican outscored the Spartans 20-9 in the fourth quarter.
Wilson Jr. will play for Marquette University next year and Stone — a 6-foot-10, 260-pound center — is considered the best big man in all of Wisconsin and one of the best in the country.
“They’re a great team,” said Laconia senior Tyler Semenas after playing his final game. “There’s not too much you can do when you’re playing against a kid that’s No. 2 in the nation and one that’s going to Marquette.”
Wilson Jr. had a game-high 22 points while Stone had 15. He scored 13 of them in the second half after struggling mightily through the first 11 minutes and having to sit the last 5 of the first half with foul trouble.
Laconia trailed just 32-30 entering the fourth quarter, where the Knight’s size and athleticism took over. They went on 7-1 run through the first 4 minutes and 8 seconds of the quarter, punctuated with a Stone two-hand slam alley-oop to put Dominican ahead 39-31 with 3:52 left to play.
The third-ranked Spartans (25-1) never got closer than six the rest of the way, unable to get the stops they needed to mount a comeback as the Knights repeatedly slashed for a bucket or got to the free-throw line.
“We didn’t really have an answer for that,” Laconia coach Tom King said. “That’s their quickness in the seams. You play a zone but they can still get inside you. You try and close the gaps and they still get through.”
Semenas did his best to keep his team in the game as the clock wound down, scoring eight of his team-high 15 points in the fourth quarter.
“It’s the worst feeling in the world,” said a dejected Semenas about fighting against the clock.
In the second half, Dominican made 11-of-20 field goals and went 7-of-10 at the line, while the Spartans went 5-of-19 from the field and 5-for-10 at the line.
Laconia got out to the start it wanted, going up 5-0 a little over 2 minutes into the first quarter while Dominican missed its first eight shots. Tywon Bressler got the Knights on the board with a 3 as part of a 7-0 run, and the teams went back-and-forth to a 12-12 tie at the end of one quarter.
Stone struggled mightily on offense throughout the first quarter, but threw down a dunk 2 minutes into the second to tie things at 16. But he picked up his second foul with 4:48 left in the half, sending him to the bench for the remainder. Laconia took advantage, going on a 7-2 run for a 23-18 lead.
Three of the Spartans’ five field goals in the quarter were on put-backs, including two from sophomore Brett Wittchow, who had six points in the frame.
Two Wilson Jr. free throws were the last points of the half as neither team scored in the final 2:10.
Stone then broke out of his slump as he and Wilson Jr. combined for all 12 of Dominican’s points in the third quarter. The two connected on an alley-oop to Stone that put the Knights in control at 26-23 and their fans on their feet. Junior Nick Vollmer countered with a tying 3-pointer for Laconia, but a Stone put-back bucket and then a Wilson Jr. steal and coast-to-coast dunk kept momentum with Dominican.
The final 3:30 of the third quarter was bizarre. With a 30-28 lead the Knights went into a offense circa 1940 as Wilson Jr. held the ball out near halfcourt for more than 2 minutes and his four teammates remained essentially stationary as well, looking content to keep possession the remainder of the half. Wilson Jr. finally got the offense moving with 1 minute left and Stone tipped in a miss for a bucket. Semenas followed with one for Laconia to keep it a two-point game entering the fourth quarter.
That’s when Dominican took over. It’s 7-1 run, combined with cold shooting from Laconia gave the Knights an eight-point lead with 3:52 to go after Stone’s second alley-oop dunk.
“They made some shots to get to the free-throw line, and on the backside of the zone they threw about three alley-oops to the big guy and we didn’t anybody to defend that,” King said. “We couldn’t go man-to-man with them, so we didn’t have a lot of options.”
At 6’10, Stone had at least a six-inch height advantage on everyone in Laconia’s rotation. He’s already received offers from Wisconsin, Marquette, Connecticut, Maryland and Arizona, to name a few.
Dominican took a double-digit lead with 2:58 left, and salted the game away from there.
“There were tears in the locker room, and I just told the players I had a great year,” King said. “It was a fun year.”
Dominican 52, Laconia 39
Dominican — Wilson Jr. 22, Stone 15, Miller 7, Topp 4, Jelacic 4. Field goals: First half 8-34, Second half 11-20, Total 19-54. 3-pointers: 2 (Wilson Jr., Bressler). FTs: 10-12. Fouls: 16. Turnovers: 9.
Laconia — Semenas 15, Vollmer 7, Wittchow 6, Greve 6, Ricert 3, Huebschman 2. Field goals: First half 9-26, Second half 5-19, Total 15-45. 3-pointers: 2 (Greve, Vollmer). FTs: 7-15. Fouls: 17. Fouled out: Rickert. Turnovers: 10.