11-0 run caps comeback for Gresham in final minute
Chris Caporale, email@example.com
Gresham overcame an 11-point deficit over the final 37 seconds to force overtime and went on to defeat Lena 79-74 in Thursday’s WIAA Division 5 sectional semifinal at Green Bay Preble High School.
With Gresham trailing 68-57, senior Ray Creapeau knocked down a 3, and then a turnover and a layup for Neal Cerveny cut the lead to six. After the Gresham press forced another turnover, Cerveny was fouled draining a deep 3-pointer with 16 seconds remaining. He made the free throw to trim the deficit to 68-66.
“Boy, when that all blew up, I just, like I said, I can’t even put it into words yet,” Gresham head coach Jeff Zobeck said. “The effort those guys laid out there. We hit shots when we needed to. We didn’t give up. We kept playing. I think that was just a great high school basketball game.”
After Lena senior Hunter Borchert missed two free throws, Cerveny went the length of the court for a layup with six seconds left to complete a personal 8-0 run to tie the game at 68 and complete a 47-point second half for Gresham.
Borchert missed an off-balance 3 at the buzzer.
“I just wanted to win. That’s all I wanted,” Cerveny said. “I just wanted the W.”
Gresham continued the momentum in the extra four minutes. Drew Haffner hit a corner 3 to give Gresham the lead. After Lena’s Connor Heise scored to regain the lead, Todd Otradovec made a clutch layup for the Wildcats. Another Otradovec layup with 1:37 left put the Wildcats up 75-72.
Creapeau, who tallied 12 points, hit one of two free throws to extend the lead.
Borchert drew a foul while making a floater on a drive, but missed from the charity stripe as Lena trailed by two. Otradovec made one of his next four free throws, but Borchert missed two, and Creapeau sealed the game by knocking down his two tries with 15 seconds left for the five-point lead.
Lena made 16 of 29 free throws; Borchert was 5 of 13.
“We’ve been in so many close games this year and we’re able to finish them,” Lena head coach Jeff Heimke said. “We’ve shot free throws really well down the stretch during the season, and just turnovers and missed free throws tonight in the last minute just kill you.”
Otradovec finished with 15 points, all of them coming in the second half or overtime period.
“He cuts hard and he goes for offensive boards. He just got himself engaged in that second half and was huge,” Zobeck said. “For a long time, he was the most consistent thing we had going. Without him, that distance might have been too much for us to come back from.”
Heise, who posted 25 points in the loss, picked up his fifth foul with just under two minutes remaining in the overtime period, forcing Borchert, who added 23 points, to do the majority of the point guard duties and scoring the remainder of the game.
Haffner, who had 13 points and four assists, fouled out nearly a minute earlier, and then Cerveny, who tallied a game-high 33 points, picked up his fifth foul while trapping in the backcourt with 27 seconds remaining, leaving seniors Creapeau, Legacy Skenandore and Derek Bowman on the court along with Justy Paiser and Otradovec to close out the game.
Bowman finished the game with five blocks and four points.
Both team struggled early, as Gresham (23-3, 17-1 Central Wisconsin Confernce-10) was the first to get on the board almost five minutes into the game.
Heise scored the first four points for Lena (20-6, 14-4 Marinette & Oconto Conference), and then Austin Lange knocked down a 3-pointer for the lead. Dalton Anderson hit two 3-pointers, and Borchert closed out the half with eight points as Lena held a nine-point lead at the break.
“We could have laid down and went home, but we didn’t,” Zobeck said. “You could see it in their eyes that they weren’t done, and we kept reminding them this game is not over.”
Gresham will face Columbus Catholic (24-2, 15-1 Cloverbelt-East Conference) in the sectional final at 4 p.m. Saturday at D.C. Everest. Columbus Catholic defeated Almond-Bancroft, 75-62, Thursday.
Marquardt 1 1-3 3; C. Borchert, 1 3-3 5; Anderson 5 0-0 13; H. Borchert 8 5-13 23; Heise 9 7-8 25; Lange 1 0-2 5.
Haffner 5 0-0 13; Skenandore 1 0-0 2; Creapeau 3 3-6 12; Cerveny 12 7-8 33; Bowman 2 0-0 4; Otradovec 6 3-7 15.
Lena 30 38 6 — 74
Gresham 21 47 11 — 79