The St. Mary’s Springs boys basketball team was still riding high on adrenaline after Saturday’s game. It may have ruined their chance to get much sleep, but considering that burst of energy sent the Ledgers to a 59-49 WIAA Division 4 regional final victory against Brookfield Academy, those players and coaches will gladly make the trade.
Second-seeded Springs (20-4) will play Flyway rival Laconia on Thursday night at Fond du Lac High School.
The visiting Blue Knights (21-3) took a 12-point lead in the second quarter with Domonique Criss scoring six points and dishing out five assists in that period alone.
But Springs chipped away, finishing the half on a 4-0 run to make it 25-17 at halftime.
“We’ve won games wire to wire, we’ve come from behind, we’ve won in ot,” said Springs coach Kyle Krueger, “and we were just going to do what it took to win.”
The second half belonged to Springs. At one point, the Ledgers went on a 15-0 run.
And on a senior-laden team, it was a sophomore that turned the tide. With momentum in Springs’ favor, Cory Nies converted a steal into a layup to get the hosts within one. After another Brookfield Academy turnover, Nies drove across the lane and his runner was good to take the lead. The third-seeded Blue Knights momentarily regained the lead only for Nies to can a left-wing 3-pointer that gave Springs the lead for good.
“He’s got a little edge to him and that’s the only way you can play as a sophomore,” Krueger said about Nies. “You have to be confident. And you have to have that edge.”
While Criss finished with 18 points, Brookfield Academy’s other star scorer Sean Clarey struggled to just 14 points — almost 10 off his season average. Clarey was just 6-of-21 from the field with Eric Feldner harassing him all game.
“We weren’t going to help off of him,” Feldner said of the strategy. “Even when they drove at him I couldn’t help off of him. He just shot a lot of 3s, but didn’t make a lot of 3.”
Nies led Springs’ balanced scoring with 12 points. Evan Henderson had 11 and David Joslyn and Darin Ward both had 10.
Henderson, not known for mixing it up in the paint, led the team with eight rebounds. Grandlic added seven boards.
Brookfield Ac. 4 21 8 16 – 49
Springs 8 9 18 24 – 59
Brookfield Ac.: Criss 18, S. Clarey 14, McMullen 4, R. Clarey 2, Klosinski 2, Stolte 9. FTs: 3-7. 3-pointers: S. Clarey 2. Fouls: 21
Springs: Henderson 11, Ward 10, Feldner 7, Nies 12, Joslyn 10, Grandlic 9. FTs: 15-23. 3-pointers: Henderson 2, Nies 2, Ward, Feldner. Fouls: 11.