WIAA basketball: Roncalli falls to Brown Deer in Division 3 state semifinal (Updated)

WIAA basketball: Roncalli falls to Brown Deer in Division 3 state semifinal (Updated)

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WIAA basketball: Roncalli falls to Brown Deer in Division 3 state semifinal (Updated)

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MADISON

Signs of frustration rolled down the face of Roncalli senior Nick Stelzer and his teammates following Friday morning’s WIAA Division 3 state semifinal boys basketball game against Brown Deer.

Not only because the game marked the end of a stellar run for these Jets, and the seven seniors. But of how oh-so-close they were from playing for a state championship.

The Jets’ season ended one day earlier than hoped, falling to the Falcons 48-45 in a contest that proved to be entertaining for hoops fans, heartbreaking for Jets supporters – of which there were many in Madison.

To be sure, Roncalli’s defense created ample opportunities – especially by creating turnovers and securing offensive rebounds – but simply, not enough of them culminated in points on the other end of the Kohl Center court.

“It just came down to, we didn’t make enough plays at the end,” said Roncalli coach Joe Rux.

Roncalli’s season ends at 25-2. Brown Deer (22-5) advances to play for the D3 title against Lodi (26-1), which edged Elk Mound (25-2) in overtime in the other semifinal.

Brown Deer’s zone – a 1-2-2 in the second quarter, and especially a 3-2 installed in the third – took Roncalli a while to get adjusted. The Jets took nearly 700 3-point attempts on the season, and solid outside shooting is a paramount reason the Jets won 22 games by 10 or more points.

And eventually, hot shooting forced the Falcons back into a man defense.

Senior Shane Johnson was a big catalyst. He hit 3’s on consecutive possessions, then junior teammate Andrew Ahola drained one, then Johnson hit yet another, putting the Jets up 26-22 late in the second quarter.

Roncalli hit seven 3-pointers in the opening half, though just two after the break.

“You know going into the game that Roncalli obviously could shoot a lot of 3-pointers and sure enough as soon as that first half started they were shooting a lot of them and making a lot of them,” said Brown Deer coach Kelly Appleby. “They do a nice job of setting a lot of screens off the ball and we’re doing our best to switch on those screens, but they were getting shots up and they were making a pile of them.”

Roncalli didn’t hit a 3-pointer for nearly eight minutes against Brown Deer’s 3-2 in the second half. But the Jets’ defense wouldn’t allow the Falcons to pull away.

Neither team led by more than five points, and this one was destined to go down to the horn.

Johnson’s offensive board and putback gave the Jets a 45-44 lead with 3:20 remaining in the game.

Unfortunately, those were Roncalli’s final points of the season.

Down the stretch, the Jets forced Brown Deer into six turnovers on consecutive possessions, but turned them into just Johnson’s two points.

Because Johnson struggled with foul trouble and leading scorer Josh Erickson couldn’t locate his usual shot, Stelzer proved to be the one offensive constant for Roncalli. The senior had 14 points on 5-of-11 shooting, hitting four of his team’s nine 3-pointers.

Johnson fouled out with 48.7 seconds left, the Jets up 45-44. On the next possession, the Falcons’ Lewrenzo Byers put his team back up on a nice move and pull up in front of the basket.

Roncalli went back to its senior leader, Erickson, who after a nifty pump-fake missed on a 3-pointer. Brown Deer hit two free throws to up its lead to 3 with under 10 seconds to go.

“It was a good play, went to it a couple times that game. It just didn’t go down,” lamented Erickson.

The Jets had one final chance to extend the game. But Stelzer’s 3-pointer attempt was blocked out of bounds with 0.4 seconds left, and a one-handed heave by Erickson at the buzzer just missed the mark.

On the game, Roncalli attempted 18 more shots than Brown Deer, but made just one more. The Jets shot 37.5 percent to 56.7 for the Falcons.

Roncalli…14 17 5 9
— 45

Brown Deer…15 17 7 9 — 48

Roncalli — Johnson 13, Erickson 11, Stelzer 14, Ahola 3, Theisen 4. 3-pt: Johnson 3, Erickson 1, Stelzer 4, Ahola 1. FT: 0-2. Fouls: 13.

Brown Deer — Baun 4, Jackson 16, Luckett 7, Byers 12, Thomas 5, Milam 2, Schimenz 2. 3-pt: Luckett 1, Byers 2. FT: 11-16. Fouls: 7.

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