N.E.W. Lutheran clinches return to state

N.E.W. Lutheran clinches return to state


N.E.W. Lutheran clinches return to state


ANTIGO – Mark Meerstein didn’t like the decision by Noah Gosse to attempt a contested 3-pointer midway through the fourth quarter on Saturday.

But the N.E.W. Lutheran boys coach isn’t going to complain about the result of the 5-foot-11 senior’s shot.

Gosse’s trey gave the Blazers the lead back and ultimately the momentum needed to go on a 15-4 run to beat Port Edwards 55-45 in a WIAA Division 5 sectional final game at Antigo High School.

“I think that was the game-changer right there,” said Gosse, who totaled 27 points and 14 rebounds. “Right after that it was like let’s go and turn it up a little bit.”

Junior Gabe Lloyd added 11 points, while senior Joey Siudzinski posted nine points and six rebounds to help the Blazers advance back to state for a fifth time in six years.

N.E.W. Lutheran (16-11) will face Hillsboro in a state semifinal game at 3:15 p.m. on Thursday in Madison.

N.E.W. Lutheran senior Joey Siudzinski helps cut down the net following the Blazers' sectional championship.

N.E.W. Lutheran senior Joey Siudzinski helps cut down the net following the Blazers’ sectional championship.

Although the Blazers are familiar visitors to the Kohl Center this time of year, this season’s squad took the scenic route to get there.

Following a fifth-place finish in the Packerland Conference and an 11-11 regular season, unranked N.E.W. Lutheran rattled off five straight wins.

Saturday’s victory against Port Edwards (23-3), the top-ranked D5 team in Wissports.net’s state poll, came two days after the Blazers knocked off Wausaukeee, the top-ranked D5 team in the Associated Press state poll.

“This time of the year it really comes down to making sure you play your game,” Meerstein said.

“You just keep playing. We were the No. 1 ranked team in the state last year all year and we ended up losing the state championship, so anything can happen. These guys just played really hard this afternoon and we got to where we needed to be.”

N.E.W. Lutheran desperately needed to get the momentum back after Jared Joslin gave Port Edwards a 41-40 lead with 5 minutes, 4 seconds remaining in the game Saturday.

It was the Blackhawks’ first lead since early in the first quarter and came after they had been steadily chipping away at what was a nine-point lead.

Joslin scored 12 of his team-high 18 points in the second half. However, the 6-foot-6 junior picked up fourth foul shortly after making the go-ahead basket.

That’s when Gosse went to work, making a pair of 3s and scoring eight consecutive points overall to give the Blazers a 48-41 lead with 1 minute, 35 seconds remaining in the game.

N.E.W. Lutheran put the game away by going 12-for-14 from the free-throw line in the fourth quarter to punch its ticket back to state and spoil Port Edwards’ hopes of advancing for the first time since 1939.

“We were worried about their dribble-drive,” Port Edwards coach Dave Gibbs said. “We haven’t played much zone on the year. We changed our defenses. I thought we did a pretty good job of it, but it’s just that Gosse is such a fine scorer and he scores in so many ways. … He obviously took over in the second half.”

N.E.W. Lutheran led 28-21 at the half, which ended with Port Edwards senior Collin McCarville making a steal and jumper at the buzzer. The Blackhawks then started the third quarter on a 9-2 run to tie the game.

Port Edwards, however, just couldn’t hit enough mid-range jump shots down the stretch. It finished shooting 18-for-51 (35.3 percent) from the field.

The Blazers, meanwhile, are looking forward to another shot at trying to win the program’s first state title after finishing runners-up three of the past five years.

“This year nobody really expected us to get to this point,” said N.E.W. Lutheran junior Nathaniel Schaefer, who scored six points and made five assists. “Every game we’re just trying to prove them wrong and show them that we do belong. We started slow, but we’re still one of the best teams in the state in Division 5.”

N.E.W. Lutheran … 13 15 9 18 – 55

Port Edwards … 11 10 13 11 – 45

NEW: Schaefer 6, Natzke 2, Gosse 27, Lloyd 11, Siudzinski 9. 3-pt: Schaefer 1, Gosse 3, Siudzinski 1. FT: 16-19. F: 13.

PE: Jo. Schraeder 14, Ja. Schraeder 3. Montag 4, McCarville 6, Joslin 18. 3-pt: Jo. Schroeder 2, Ja. Schroeder 1. FT: 6-10. F: 17.


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