Having not played in a week, the No. 2-seeded Roncalli boys basketball team’s offense came out struggling on Friday night and never recovered in a 53-48 home loss to No. 7 Luxemburg-Casco in a regional semifinal of the WIAA Division 3 State Boys Basketball Tournament.
Luxemburg-Casco (12-12) ran a zone defense that stifled Roncalli (18-5) to start, forcing the Jets to take several shots that missed from beyond the 3-point line after minute-long possessions.
This also limited the number of scoring chances for the Jets, who ran a man-to-man defense at Luxemburg-Casco, which looked inside for tough baskets, making most of them. It was only the fifth time all season Roncalli had been held to fewer than 50 points.
“They were pretty long and athletic. We just really weren’t moving the ball very well and were just standing up top,” said Nate Lassila, one of Roncalli’s two seniors. “I give them credit, they were flying around and making plays. We didn’t really shoot it as well as I would have hoped. But that’s the way it goes.”
The Jets led 10-4 at one point but Luxemburg-Casco finished the first quarter on a 5-0 run to trail 10-9 at the end of the first quarter.
The run was a sign of things to come, as the Spartans took their first lead with 20 seconds gone by in the second quarter and would not trail again until six minutes left in the fourth quarter.
Lassila had a game-high 14 points – seven in the first half – while teammate Nick Stelzer had 13 points with a game-high three 3-pointers. Josh Erickson also had eight points for Roncalli, as no other individual had more than six points.
The Jets made seven 3-pointers in the game, including a Sam Scheer 3-pointer that tied the game at 17-17 before the Spartans once again finished a quarter on a run – including a two-point basket at the buzzer – to lead 21-17 at halftime.
Through the first half Luxemburg-Casco was shooting 70 percent from the field but committed no fouls while Roncalli was shooting 50 percent – a season high.
Tyler Heyduk opened the second half with a 3-pointer for the Jets, but much like they did all game, the Spartans answered with a clutch play to get an open 3-pointer.
A string of three possessions resulted in turnovers for Roncalli as Luxemburg-Casco capitalized to lead 30-24 with three minutes left in the third quarter. Nick Stelzer made a 3-pointer for the Jets in the frame’s closing seconds as they trailed 34-32 entering the final quarter.
Once again, though, the Spartans answered with a 3-pointer of its own – one of their five in the game – and led until a pair of Stelzer free-throws game Roncalli its first lead since the early second quarter.
The lead was short lived, though, as Luxemburg-Casco matched Roncalli possession-for-possession down the stretch and pulled away in the game’s closing minutes.
“Obviously it’s tough right now to describe,” Lassila said when asked about his reaction to the loss. “(My time at Roncalli) has been fun. It’s kind of disappointing the season would end this early. I was hoping to go further. But I love my teammates and the season was fun overall.”
Roncalli coach Joe Rux was not available for comment immediately after the game ended.
Levi Dax 12, Carson Falk 7, Depree Stevenson 2, David Vlotho 7, Caleb Willems 15, Jake Zeitler 10.
Josh Erickson 8, Tyler Heyduk 3, Shane Johnson 4, Nate Lassila 14, Sam Scheer 6, Nick Stelzer 13.
3-Point Goals – Luxemburg-Casco 5 (Carson Falk 1, David Vlotho 1, Caleb Willems 1, Jake Zeitler 2), Roncalli 7 (Nate Lassila 2, Sam Scheer 2, Nick Stelzer 3), Total Fouls – Luxemburg-Casco 9, Roncalli 13.