Wesclin junior's career game lifts Warriors to regional title
The Wesclin Warriors landed more shots from beyond the arc than they even attempted inside it.
Those 15 3-pointers carried them to a 74-66 overtime win against host-team Hillsboro and a Class 2A boys basketball regional championship.
“I have to credit our guys for making (the 3s), but at the same time I would have been disappointed if we didn’t take take them,” said Wesclin coach Brent Brede.
“The shots we have open to us dictate what we get out of the offense. As long as they were open, we had to keep shooting them.”
Junior Brandon Courtney landed eight from 3-point range as part of his career-best, 34-point performance.
“It felt like everything was going in,” Courtney said. “We’re a 3-point shooting team, and we’re always known for that. It’s what we do.”
Wesclin (17-13) advances to a Nashville Sectional semifinal game against Alton Marquette Wednesday at 7 p.m.
Hillsboro (17-6) was trying for its first regional title since 1999. Warriors coach Brent Brede said his team wasn’t rattled by the vocal enthusiasm of the jam-packed gym, even as his team fell behind six-point lead late in the fourth quarter.
“Whatever I’ve ever done in my athletic career, there is nothing more exciting than a Friday night regional or sectional championship game,” said Brede, who won a state championship with the Warriors in 1990, then played three years in Major League Baseball. “I haven’t gone through anything in my life that’s better than playing in this kind of atmosphere at any level.
“I’m just so happy these kids got to experience, and I’m really proud of the the way they handled themselves in it.”
Hillsboro trailed by a point after three quarters, but a 10-3 run — interrupted only by a Courtney 3-pointer — put the Hiltoppers on top 60-54 with 3:36 left.
But Wesclin closed the gap from the free-throw line with Mick Stephens and Hunter Ottensmeier teaming to hit 5 of 6 foul shots. Junior Justin Kellogg tied the game, 62-62, with 1:33 left.
Hillsboro killed the remaining time on the clock to set up the game-winner, but Drake Paden attempted a 3-point shot under pressure from Nate Brede and missed wide and short to send the game to overtime.
Stephens, who finished with 19, opened the four-minute period with a 3-pointer, and Courtney followed with another to put the Warriors in command.
“When Mick came out in overtime and hit that 3 right away, we felt like all the momentum fell to our side,” Brede said.
Wesclin outscored Hillsboro 12-4 in overtime and scored the game’s last eight points.
In addition to Courtney’s 34 and Stephens’ 19, Kellogg scored 11 points with three 3-pointers of his own.
Wesclin shot 57 percent from the field, including 15 of 27 from 3-point range.
Senior Steven Fenske, who leads Hillsboro with 18.3 points per game, was held to 12. Kaiden White also reached double figures with 11.
Hillsboro was almost as good, hitting 51 percent of its shots with eight 3-pointers. The Hilltoppers missed their last eight attempts, however.