Bangor earns No. 1 seeding in Division 5 entering the WIAA state boys basketball tournament
Friday’s semifinals: (1) Bangor (25-1) vs. (4) Green Bay NEW Lutheran (15-12), 9:05 a.m.; (2) Deerfield (23-4) vs. (3) Chippewa Falls McDonell (17-10), about 10:45 a.m.
Saturday’s championship: Semifinal winners, 11:05 a.m.
Coach: Dave Borgrud (12th year, 214-76).
Starters: G Noah Gjermo, 6-2, sr., 16.2 ppg, 7.0 rpg, 73 assists; G Hayden Pratt, 6-2, sr., 8.8 ppg, 5.9 rpg; G Carson Knapp, 5-10, jr., 7.8 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 67 assists, 40 steals; F Nate Siewert, 6-4, sr., 17.6 ppg, 10.2 rpg, 69 assists, 43 steals, 41 blocks; F Nick Vander Grinten, 6-2, sr., F, 1.8 ppg.
About the Demons: The Demons worked their way up to the No. 7 state ranking behind the powerhouse play of Siewert and Gjermo. Siewert, the conference player of the year, averages in double digits in both scoring and rebounding and ranks first or second on the team in assists, steals and blocks. Borgrud said the Demons focus on strong team defense, as reflected by their average scoring margin of 72.7 to 50.4 points per game. The Demons ousted defending state champion Barneveld in overtime, 50-44, before downing Oshkosh Lourdes in the sectional final, 65-42. Deerfield split Trailways South Conference games with co-champion Palmyra-Eagle and also fell to Lake Mills, Milwaukee Marshall and Milwaukee Science in non-conference play. Borgrud said Knapp missed the first six games with an ankle injury, Gjermo missed the second half of the Palmyra-Eagle loss, and a flu bug slowed the Demons against Milwaukee Marshall. Six players average 7.8 points or better for the Demons.
CHIPPEWA FALLS MCDONELL
Coach: Archie Sherbinow (15th year, 186-130).
Starters: G Cory Hoglund, 6-1, jr., 12.8 ppg, 4.9 rpg; G Joey Huffcutt, 6-2, sr., 6.1 ppg, 2.5 rpg; F Hayden Baughman, 6-5, sr., 21.7 ppg, 6.5 rpg; F Charlie Bleskachek, 6-4, jr., 11.5 ppg, 6.6 rpg; F Eion Kressin, 6-5, so., 6.9 ppg, 5.7 rpg.
About the Macks: Veteran coach Sherbinow’s team, the 2016 state champs, made it to the Kohl Center for the third straight year and fourth time since 2012. The Macks took early lumps, with only two senior starters. The leader has been Baughman, a third-year starter with 1,430 career points who has “willed this team to get back” to state, Sherbinow said. He’ll play next year at Division II Concordia-St. Paul (Minnesota). Hoglund, the No. 2 scorer, returned from a late-season injury to rejoin the team in the sectional. The Macks lost four of five late games with Hoglund out, and endured a string of six losses in seven games early in the season, including losses to state qualifiers Prescott, Marathon and Clear Lake.
Coach: Jordan Laufenberg (11th year, 189-83).
Starters: G Luke Reader, 6-1, sr., 16.8 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 103 assists, 64 steals; G Drew Johnson, 6-0, sr., 11.6 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 59 assists; G Caleb Miedema, 6-4, sr., 13.4 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 91 assists, 46 steals; F Cade Amborn, 6-6, sr., 7.8 ppg, 6.4 rpg; F Grant Manke, 6-4, so., 12.9 ppg, 9.8 rpg, 22 blocks;
About the Cardinals: Fresh off celebrating the Bangor girls’ first-ever state championship last week, the state second-ranked Cardinals boys earned their first state trip since 1936. Four players average in double figures for a Bangor team that averages 80.2 ppg, led by Luke Reader, who also leads the squad in assists. All but two of Bangor’s basketball players (both freshmen) were part of the Cardinals’ WIAA Division 7 state championship football team. The Cardinals’ only loss came in midseason against Division 3 state-ranked Gale-Ettrick-Trempealeau. Bangor’s five postseason victories came by an average of 40.4 points, and the Cardinals have had only one single-digit victory margin all season. Luke Reader, who’s shooting 55 percent from the field and 45 percent from 3-point range, has 1,615 career points and will play next year at UW-Eau Claire.
GREEN BAY NEW LUTHERAN
Coach: Mark Meerstein (27th year, 339-308).
Starters: G Samuel Meerstein, 6-4, jr., 21.3 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 92 assists, 74 steals, 22 blocks; G Jacob Champeau, 5-10, jr., 9.8 ppg, 72 assists; G Luke Bukowski, 6-0, jr., 9.7 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 57 assists, 35 steals; F Bennett Reisler, 6-1, sr., 5.3 ppg, 4.8 rpg; F Chip Kindt, 6-6, sr., 5.5 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 12 blocks.
About the Blazers: The unranked Blazers took sixth in the Packerland Conference, comprised entirely of larger schools, losing three in a row early, seven out of nine in midseason (including losses to state qualifiers and its last two regular-season games. But NEW Lutheran bounced back to upset state top-ranked Marshfield Columbus, 67-56, in a sectional final to earn its fifth state tournament trip in six years and seventh since 2010. The coach’s son, Samuel Meerstein, leads the Blazers in scoring, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks and already has 1,472 career points.