The No. 6-seeded Reedsville boys basketball team will have to forgive its head coach Steve Brooks for not making it to the locker room right away after the Panthers’ 55-50 WIAA Division 4 State Basketball Tournament sectional quarterfinal win over No. 1 Shiocton on Thursday night.
It’s not easy to get through a crowd of hundreds of Panthers fans trying to congratulate you after such a big win.
Brooks said early this week that Shiocton’s (21-4, 13-1 Central-Eight Conference) physical play to start would be a test for Reedsville (11-15, 5-13 Olympian Conference), but it was the Panthers who came out strong after winning the opening tip. They went inside for the most part offensively, but made open 3-pointers when they had them to jump out to a 9-2 lead with five minutes left in the frame.
“Never did I dream that we would be in this spot, where we not only withstood their pressure but we could put the pressure on them. The kids listened and we were prepared,” Brooks said. “They are athletic and they certainly earned their No. 1 seed, we were just fortunate to hit some shots and keep them from hitting shots they normally hit.”
Shiocton had a hard time early on getting the ball inside, taking many outside shots. The Chiefs, though, trimmed Reedsville’s lead in the closing minutes of the first quarter and took its only lead of the game at 13-12 entering the second quarter.
Reedsville started the second quarter with two 3-pointers on consecutive possessions and Brock Gilsdorf made a pair of free throws on the Panthers’ third possession to give them a 20-13 lead with five minutes left in the half.
“We had good team defense, and their defense didn’t pressure our front so we had open space, and both things helped us out a lot,” Gilsdorf, who finished with a team-high 15 points, said. “We knew our defense always had to step it up. Our defense helped our offense.”
Shiocton didn’t score its first points of the frame until its only 3-pointer of the half made it 22-16 with 3:19 left in the half, but Cody Schamburek answered with a 3-pointer on the following possession as Reedsville went on to lead 29-20 at halftime.
“(At halftime) we said ‘don’t do anything differently now.’ Keep your hands in the face of the guys who will shoot the ball and be prepared. Make sure we help out on defense and don’t allow second-chance shots,” Brooks said. “Thankfully we did that enough to get by.”
Schamburek led the Panthers, who had five 3-pointers in the half, with eight points at halftime while Gilsdorf and Brett Dvorachek each had five at the break. Schamburek finished with 10 and Dvorachek added 14.
Dvorachek opened the second half with a long field goal and he made a 3-pointer with four minutes left in the third quarter to give Reedsville a 38-25 lead. The Panthers had a 13-4 run in the middle of the third quarter, despite Schamburek sitting out with a head injury, and led 42-29 entering the fourth quarter.
Schamburek, who was diagnosed with a broken nose after the game, returned for Reedsville in the fourth as it opened with three straight baskets in the paint to take its biggest lead of the game at 44-29 and led 48-34 with six minutes left in the game.
Shiocton responded, as the Panthers turned the ball over four times playing keep away, and the Chiefs trailed 48-43 with 3:36 left.
But Bryler Kiekhaefer made his only two points in the game count, draining a pair of free throws to give Reedsville a 53-49 lead with 32 seconds left.
From there, the pair played a hectic final few minutes full of Shiocton turnovers and desperation 3’s before the Panthers gathered at halfcourt to celebrate the monumental win. The Panthers finished by shooting 9-of-12 from the free-throw line, many in the game’s final minutes, while Shiocton was 4-of-14 and had no double-digit scorers.
The postseason road doesn’t get any easier for Reedsville, though, is it plays No. 1 Amherst (21-3, 13-1 CW-Eight) on Saturday at 1 p.m. at Waupaca High School.
Just don’t count these Panthers out yet.
Brett Dvorachek 14, Brock Gilsdorf 15, Bryler Kiekhaefer 2, Zach Laabs 5, Cody Schamburek 10, Bryce Wenzel 9.
Patrick Brouillard 4, Talon Heinemeyer 8, Shane Kanaman 9, Forest Nett 2, Levi Singler 9, Jacob Van Asten 9, Riley Van Asten 9.
3-Point Goals – Reedsville 6 (Brett Dvorachek 2, Brock Gilsdorf 1, Zach Laabs 1, Cody Schamburek 2), Shiocton 6 (Talon Heinemeyer 2, Shane Kanaman 1, Jacob Van Asten 1, Riley Van Asten 2), Total Fouls – Reedsville 16, Shiocton 15.