NEILLSVILLE – It took composure to overcome a fast fourth-quarter start by Neillsville for the Owen-Withee boys basketball team to take control and slam the door on their first Cloverbelt Conference title since 1957.
Albert Goerlitz sank two-free throws with 16.9 seconds left to give the Blackhawks a two-possession lead. Neillsville’s Matt Grottke hit a pull-up jumper at the final buzzer, but it didn’t matter, as O-W had sealed up a 57-55 victory Monday to earn a share of the Cloverbelt Conference-East Division title.
Columbus Catholic beat Spencer 66-34 to earn its share of the crown.
The conference title is the first for the Blackhawks 57 years.
“I was proud of the boys and how they took control of the game for themselves,” O-W coach Russ Weiler said. “In our timeouts, they were the ones talking and leading the discussion and making sure everyone knew their part. They never lost focus and beat a very good Neillsville team tonight.”
In addition to making clutch free throws in the closing seconds, Goerlitz led all scorers with 28 points. Younger brother Josiah Goerlitz chipped in with 13.
Trailing by a point heading into the fourth quarter, Neillsville went on a 6-0 run, started by Kyle Hauge’s 3-pointer.
That flurry gave the Warriors a 43-38 lead. Slowly, but surely, O-W chipped away and took the lead for good with less than 90 seconds left when Austin Milliren sank a free throw.
“They continued to attack the rim and we settled for outside shots,” Neillsville coach Nate Ehlen said. “We took good shots, they just weren’t falling and Owen out-rebounded us and that was the difference in the game.
“This hurts tonight, but the kids played well and we have the playoffs and hopefully a lot more games to win,” Ehlen added.
Leading scorers: O-W, Albert Goerlitz 28, Josiah Goerlitz 13, Austin Milliren 8, Lance Renderman 6, Bryce Niemi 2; N, Michael Dux 13, Matt Grottke 12, Kyle Hauge 11, Jake Kunze 9, Sam Neville 5, Neal Mattson 5. Free throws: O-W 13-16; N 6-9. 3-pointers: O-W 0; N 7 (Dux 2, Hague 3, Kunze, Mattson).
Records: Owen-Withee 17-4, 15-3 Cloverbelt; Neillsville 15-6, 14-4 Cloverbelt.
Columbus Catholic 66, Spencer 34
MARSHFIELD – A big win Friday night, but Columbus Catholic in a position to win a share of the Cloverbelt Conference title.
Led by Jared Fleischmann’s 23-point effort, the Dons defeated Spencer to secure a share of the league title. Owen-Withee beat Neillsville to clinch its piece of the crown.
The Dons last shared the title in 2011.
Mitch Susa led Spencer with 14 points.
Leading scorers: S, Joe Meyers 2, Calvin Lenz 6, Bobby Pilz 5, Miles Weber 2, Cody Esser 1, Ryan Busse 2, Spencer Susa 1, Mitch Susa 14, Nick Johnson 1; CC, Alex Baierl 6, Bryce DeSmet 3, Jared Fleischmann 23, Derrick Green 11, Cole Mushel 1, Evan Nikolai 2, Jake Puent 18, Tyler Fuerlinger 2.
Reocrds: Columbus Catholic 17-4, 15-3 Cloverbelt; Spencer 13-7, 12-6 Cloverbelt.
Colby 52, Loyal 38
COLBY – Jake Hoernke scored eight of his 16 points in the fourth quarter as the Hornets won the Cloverbelt Conference East Division matchup.
Cameron Brussown led the Greyhounds with 11.
Leading scorers: L, Alec Anderson 6, Nathan Hederer 3, Derrick Howard 3, Colten Roehl 2, Alex Schuette 9, Cameron Brussow 11, Ryley Fisher 4; C, Reggie Kellnhofer 8, Josh Rahm 12, Ty Raatz 2, Ryan Lynn 4, Jake Hoernke 16, Trevor Buchholz 8, Tanner Geatz 2.. 3-pointers: L, 5 (Brussow 3, Anderson 2); C, 2 (Buchholz). FT: L, 3-8; C 2-6.
Records: Colby 10-11, 8-10 Cloverbelt Conference East Division; Loyal 2-18, 1-6 Cloverbelt East