Sectional final basketball games aren’t supposed to be like the one played between Oshkosh North and D.C. Everest on Saturday.
They are supposed be tough, close games with two teams battling until the end for a state tournament berth.
Oshkosh North made sure that wasn’t the case.
The Spartans imposed their will on the Evergreens, winning going away 81-48 in a WIAA Division 1 Sectional Final at Stevens Point High School on Saturday, earning North’s second bid to the WIAA State Tournament in as many years.
“It feels real good,” Oshkosh North’s Cooper Radtke said about heading back to state. “We had players step up into bigger roles. Everyone is just working hard.”
It was clear from the outset that Oshkosh North was the better team, as they raced out to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter.
They ended up outscoring the Evergreens 24-4 in the first frame.
“Everything seemed to be falling,” Oshkosh North’s Blake Marquardt said.
It only got better for the Spartans, who dominated on both ends of the court against D.C. Everest.
On defense, North suffocated the Evergreens, forcing 26 turnovers in the process and allowing D.C. Everest virtually no room to breathe.
On offense, the Spartans’ motion and transition games were run with a surgical precision, as North seemingly hit everything they saw on the court.
“We got into it right away,” Oshkosh North’s Nate Neveau said. “We got the energy going, we got the crowd behind us and from there it just kind of flowed and everything went our way.”
The two guys with the hot hands were Marquardt and Radtke. Both went over 20 points on the game, with Marquardt leading the way with 22 points and Radtke close behind with 21.
The two worked their inside-out game to perfection, and along with Neveau, who scored 12 points and dished out eight assists, scorched the Evergreens.
“It starts with Nate, he’s the mailman, he makes the decisions,” Spartans coach Frank Schade said. “Cooper has gotten tougher and tougher inside and Blake, you can’t leave him open, he’s gonna hit that shot.
“It’s nice to see when everything is going at the same time.”
North also got lots of contributions from their bench and role players, who got things done offensively and defensively for the Spartans.
“That kind of effort, battling, it’s those kinds of things that make a difference,” Schade said of his role players and bench. “It’s the role players that can add to what’s going on.”
Now North looks to the WIAA Division 1 State Tournament next week. The opponent waiting for them in their return trip? Undefeated, No. 1-ranked and defending Division 1 state champion Germantown.
Even with the tall task ahead, the Spartans approach will not change.
“The way we are going to approach it won’t change,” Schade said. “I realize they are the best team in the state but they can’t take away our attitude, our effort or our toughness and that’s what we have to deliver. We just have to play to that.”
Notes: The Evergreens had two players finish in double figures in Zach Finnegan, who scored 18, and Josh Nielsen, who scored 17…North made 54 percent of their shots.
Game ball: Marquardt, who had the hot hand from inside and outside the arc, scoring 22 points on the night.
By the numbers: 14, the number of total missed shots in the first 3 quarters for North. The Spartans went 24-of-38 in those quarters (63 percent).
D.C. Everest…4 15 14 15 — 48
Oshkosh North…24 22 20 15 — 81
D.C. Everest: Finnegan 18, Nielsen 17, Stroik 2, Miller 3, Cornish 1, Decker 1, Gjertson 6. 3-pointers: 6 (Nielsen 5, Miller). FT: 8-12. Total fouls: 20
Oshkosh North: Neveau 12, Bauer 8, Schmitz 1, Radtke 21, Madden 6, Madut 6, Hassman 5, Marquardt 22. 3-pointers: 7 (Marquardt 3, Neveau 2, Bauer 2). FT: 16-25. Total fouls: 13.