OSHKOSH – A practice doesn’t end for Shane Wissink until the Oshkosh North senior sharp-shooter sinks 13 free throws in a row.
Tuesday night, one was enough.
Wissink’s free throw with 8.6 seconds left completed a three-point play and broke a tie game as top-ranked Oshkosh North wrapped up a Fox Valley Association title with a hard-fought 58-57 win over No. 4 Kimberly inside a jam-packed Oshkosh North Fieldhouse.
“It’s what I practice every day,” Wissink said. “It was just a routine free throw that I was confident I was going to hit.”
Kimberly’s Will Chevalier got a look at a deep 3-point attempt off a set play but the shot missed the mark and Levi Nienhaus-Borchert’s putback effort came after the final horn sounded as the Spartans sealed the win with a final defensive stand.
It was a gutty win for North, which can wrap up a perfect regular season on Thursday against rival Oshkosh West.
“It was a huge win,” said the Spartans’ Philip Flory. “It took a lot out of us. … We just got stuff clicking and we started hitting shots and it was a great team win. I’m so proud of our guys.”
The Papermakers’ Alec Rosner had given Kimberly a 57-55 lead with a drive to the basket with 32 seconds left, but failed to convert the free throw after being fouled.
That opened the door for the Spartans. Out of a timeout with 13 seconds to go, Wissink drove from the top of the key into the lane and drew a foul while getting his shot to roll in.
“We just wanted to get the best shot and put the ball through the hoop – being down two, we just needed a two,” said Wissink, who finished with seven points. “I just took it upon myself to take it to the hoop.”
Flory scored 14 of his team-high 18 points in the second half and scored seven straight points for the Spartans in one stretch to keep the Papermakers from pulling away.
“I definitely started feeling it (in the second half),” Flory said. “Then once I started hitting some shots, it got some guys open and they hit shots and that just got things rolling.”
Kimberly went on a 10-3 run over a three-minute span midway through the second half, capped by a 3-pointer from Danny VandenBoom on a second-chance opportunity. That gave the Papermakers a 46-40 lead – matching their biggest lead of the game – with 7:16 left.
Flory, however, answered with a 3-pointer to cut the lead in half and hit the second of two free throws on the next possession to leave the Spartans trailing 47-44.
“I thought Phil really helped us (offensively) for a long time,” North coach Frank Schade said. “We got what we needed when had to and got the job done.”
North tied the score at 52 on a steal and dunk from Tyrese Haliburton before Brett Ellestad’s 3-pointer with 2:38 left pushed the Spartans in front for the first time in more than seven minutes.
VandenBoom – who chipped in 13 points – then answered with a 3-pointer to tie the game with 2:10 to play, setting up the final dramatics.
“We faced adversity multiple times throughout the year but this was the toughest because we were facing one of the best teams we ever played,” Wissink said. “We had to stick together and once again we pulled it out.”
Chevalier led the Papermakers with 18 points, but was held to just five in the second half. Nienhaus-Borchert finished with 12 points and 10 rebounds for Kimberly.
Quincy Anderson added 11 points and Haliburton chipped in seven points, seven assists and six rebounds.
Yet it was the late 3 by Ellestad, a clutch 3-pointer from Josh Leib earlier in the half that capped a 9-2 run for the Spartans and the clutch inside baskets and defense from Matt Hickey and Gout Deng that proved to be crucial in holding off Kimberly.
“You have to have those kind of kids who when they come in are willing to take those kind of pressure shots and battle. They know their role, come in and do a good job,” Schade said. “Good teams, you have to find a way to get it done. It was a hard climb. That’s a very, very good team and I’m very pleased with our kids and what they did tonight.”
Kimberly 27 30 – 57
Oshkosh North 23 35 – 58
Kimberly: Chevalier 18, VandenBoom 13, DeValk 2, Nienhaus-Borchert 12, Thies 6, T. Johnson 2, Rosner 4. 3-pointers: 6 (VandenBoom 3, Chevalier 2, Thies). FTs: 5-8. Fouls: 11.
Oshkosh North: Flory 18, Anderson 11, Haliburton 7, Wissink 7, Ellestad 6, Hickey 4, Leib 3, Deng 2. 3-pointers: 8 (Flory 2, Anderson 2, Ellestad 2, Haliburton, Leib). FTs: 6-8. Fouls: 12.
Steve Clark: firstname.lastname@example.org or follow on Twitter at @skcreno27