Getting to State isn’t easy, and Brillion coach Pete Kittel knows this.
So win or lose, the fact that the Lions returned to the Kohl Center for the third time in five seasons is an accomplishment in itself.
This season’s trip ended Thursday with a 78-47 semifinal loss to mighty Whitefish Bay Dominican. But the coach was proud of the way Brillion handled itself.
“Program-wise, we want to have guys who represent what Brillion basketball is about,” said Kittel. “It’s not going to be the prettiest or the flashiest, but have great character and play extremely hard.”
Kittel said character was shown this season. The team won nine straight before losing three of four. The Lions also lost their final three in the regular season to finish in third in the Olympian Conference.
But the Lions got hot again for the playoffs, making a run to get back to State.
“You never want to lose this game, but you want to represent well,” said Kittel. “I’m proud of who we were as young competitors in this game.”
Memorable capper: Brillion junior Nick Dietrich only appeared in 17 of his team’s 27 games. He had just four points on the season, and didn’t play in Thursday’s state semifinal until the closing moments, well after Dominican had the game in hand.
But Dietrich had a chance at his one shining moment, and took it.
Dietrich launched a halfcourt shot at the final buzzer and nailed it. His 3-pointer made the final 78-47 in favor of the Knights.
It was the 6-4 forward’s first 3-point attempt all season, and just his ninth shot attempt. But it was a memorable one.
Block party: Dominican had 11 blocks on Brillion, including seven by five-star junior recruit Diamond Stone.
That would have broken or tied a team record for blocks in four of the five divisions. But not Division 4, by a longshot.
Randolph, led by future University of Wisconsin center and NBA veteran Greg Stiemsma, had a record 16 blocks in a win over Wisconsin Rapids Assumption in 2002. The Rockets had 10 more in the state finals, for 26 overall.