MADISON – Travis Voigt found his teammate and this time, Nathan Toenjes wouldn’t miss.
After failing to connect on six of his first seven shots on Thursday – a number of which were from point-blank range – Toenjes converted a three-point play off a dish from Voigt with 3.5 seconds left to break a tie game and lift Green Bay N.E.W. Lutheran to a 62-59 win over Drummond in a WIAA Division 5 state semifinal at the Kohl Center.
“I saw Travis down the lane and a bunch of times this year we’ve had it where he just dishes it off and I go up,” Toenjes said. “It was just sort of like we’ve been doing it all year.”
N.E.W. Lutheran, which lost to Randolph in the title game in 2010 and in the state semifinals two years ago, will face the Rockets again for the state championship on Saturday at 11:05 a.m. at the Kohl Center. Randolph defeated Elmwood 46-37 in the day’s second game.
Before they could get there, though, the Blazers had to endure some tenuous moments.
Drummond’s Ben Best, who finished with 19 points and 15 rebounds, hit the first of two free throws with 29 seconds left to even the game at 59, setting the stage for the Blazers to get the final shot.
Voigt dribbled the ball near midcourt before bursting past the Vikings’ Ryan Schick at the top of the key. Drummond’s Andrew McKinney stepped in to take a charge, but Voigt twisted around the Vikings defender in the air and dumped the ball to the wide open Toenjes.
The senior forward, who went 4-of-4 from the field in the fourth quarter, made the decisive basket.
“I saw there were 29 seconds left and at that point, I wanted the ball in my hands,” Voigt said. “I just ran down the clock a little and then took (Schick) one-on-one and either take the shot or dish it off and luckily Nate was there to finish the play for us.”
Blazers coach Mark Meerstein said the final play wasn’t anything complicated, just executed well.
“It’s a play we’ve run for 22 years,” Meerstein said. “But it’s the guy taking it to the basket and the guy on the block that makes it work.”
N.E.W. Lutheran shot an impressive 50.9 percent from the floor and saw all five starters reach double figures.
Nathan Claflin, who led the way with 14 points and a team-high seven rebounds, drilled a 3-pointer from the left corner as time expired in the third quarter that halted a 5-0 spurt by the Vikings and sent the Blazers into the fourth quarter with a 46-45 lead.
“Travis made a good drive, sucked in my defender and made a good pass. I thought it was short, but then it was perfect,” Claflin said. “We’re just a balanced team with some really good players on it and anyone can step up at any time. I think that showed today. We had different guys carry us at different times today.”
Dakota Zinser, who added 13 points, then ignited a 6-0 spurt by the Blazers that pushed the lead to 55-48 and N.E.W. Lutheran maintained its seven-point lead through the midway point of the fourth quarter.
Drummond (24-3) held the Blazers scoreless for a 2½-minute stretch late in the game, forcing turnovers on three straight N.E.W. Lutheran possessions to get back to even but it was the Blazers that got the last laugh.
“They didn’t shoot that well the first time we played them so you have to give them credit,” said Meerstein, whose team beat Drummond, 45-41, at the Shawano Sun Drop Shootout at the Kress Events Center in December. “The biggest thing is that we just stayed in there. We got down a little bit and we just pushed it at the end and (Voigt and Toenjes) made a great play at the end of the game.”