Prairie du Chien at State Tournament

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Nathan Banasik goes up for a shot in the second half at the Division 3 State Boys' Basketball Tournament Thursday afternoon. (Photos by Ted Pennekamp)

Connor George looks for a teammate.

Drew Scott looks to score down low.

The Prairie du Chien Band gets the fans pumped up before tip-off.

Zach Neisius pulls up for a jumper in the paint.

Connor George draws three Waupun defenders.

Wesley Schwager backs in.

Chas Sagedahl muscles his way past.

The Hawkettes get their kicks in a rousing halftime performance.

Members of the student section react to a score by Prairie du Chien.

Chas Sagedahl fights for a loose ball.

The Prairie du Chien cheerleaders rev up the crowd.

Prairie du Chien players salute their appreciative fans.

The Prairie du Chien crowd cheers the team as it walks from the court.

 

Prairie du Chien’s fine season 

comes to an end at State Basketball Tournament

By Ted Pennekamp

 

Prairie du Chien’s fine boys’ basketball season came to an end Thursday afternoon at the Division 3 State Tournament in the Kohl Center in Madison as the Waupun Warriors defeated the Blackhawks 55-43 in a semifinal contest.

Waupun improved to 26-1 while Prairie du Chien ended a great season with an overall record of 24-3. Nonetheless, the Prairie du Chien players held their heads high and saluted their fans as they left the court with all Blackhawk backers applauding and cheering loud and long in appreciation for the hard-fought effort.

The Warriors’ height and physical play proved to be too much for the Blackhawks, especially in the first half as the Warriors built a 30-20 halftime lead.

“It hurt us in the first half when we didn’t match their physicality,” said Prairie Coach Andy Banasik whose team was limited to one shot on many possessions and also had several shots blocked or altered by the Warriors who had five players 6-foot-3 or taller, including 6-8 senior forward Colton Homan. Waupun outrebounded Prairie 20-14 in the first half and 41-32 for the game.

Prairie’s normally deadly outside shooting, penetration and nifty inside passing was also not quite there on this St. Patrick’s Day as Waupun extended the long arm of the law in the opening half.

“The ball rolled around the rim a lot,” said Banasik. “We must not be Irish, because it was one of those nights when we just couldn’t get the ball through the net.”

The Blackhawks shot only 8-for-27 from the field in the first half and 1-for-13 in the first seven minutes of the second half. Prairie shot 15-for-58 for the game.

“Their length hurt us early in the game, as did their rebounding,” said Banasik. “It was one of those days. It’s something we will get better with next year.”

“We didn’t give up too many open looks to shooters, but we were still able to control the (penetration) gaps,” said Waupun Coach Dan Domask.

Waupun’s height was also hard to defend as the Warriors scored 32 points in the paint for the game compared to 14 for the Blackhawks.

Despite their shooting cold spell, the scrappy Blackhawks battled back, due in large part to switching from a man to man to a trapping style of defense in the second half. The deep and quick Blackhawks have been able to turn up the defensive heat throughout the season, and in the second half Thursday afternoon, it began to pay dividends as the faltering Warriors committed turnovers that led to some fast break points and clutch treys for Prairie du Chien.

The Blackhawks went on a 9-0 run that started on a pair of free throws by Drew Scott with 12:35 to go in the game. A steal and a layup by Chas Sagedahl at the 11:30 mark, a jumper by Casey Hogenson, and a 3-pointer by Connor George cut the lead to 36-31 with 9:59 left.

“It was definitely nerve time,” said Warrior Coach Dan Domask of Prairie’s trapping defense that helped fuel the Blackhawks’ comeback effort. “I have to give Coach Banasik credit, they made an adjustment that then forced us to adjust.”

Waupun regained their composure and also blocked three shots in a three-minute span to help open a 45-34 lead with 5:08 to play. 

The determined Blackhawks wouldn’t go away, however, and got to within 47-42 with 2:15 left on a three-pointer by Sagedahl.

Waupun steadily pulled away in the waning moments, hitting eight straight free throws from the 2:06 mark onward to earn the victory.

Freshman Marcus Domask scored a game-high 21 points to lead the Warriors. Colton Homan netted 11 points and hauled down 15 rebounds.

Connor George scored 10 points for the Blackhawks. Chas Sagedahl and Casey Hogenson added 8 points apiece. Drew Scott scored 7. Nathan Banasik scored 5. Wesley Schwager netted 3 and Jacob Lenzendorf had 2.

“This year, playing with all the guys, it’s been really fun,” said Connor George about this past season and the playoff run. “It’s so surreal right now. It doesn’t feel like we made it this far. It’s awesome.”

“It’s been great for our community,” said Coach Banasik, who noted that Prairie du Chien has shown excellent support all season and that a large portion of the city’s residents made the trip to Madison to cheer on their Blackhawks. 

“We do things the right way,” Banasik continued. “I’ve seen these kids from kindergarten on, and I’ve watched how hard they work. We’re in a great division and it’s been a long time but I think they represented our community well and I think this has put Prairie du Chien back on the map.”

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