Medford upsets Shawano with 2nd-half comeback

Hawks say goodbye to 8 seniors
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Leader photo by Jacy Zollar Shawano Community High School junior Alex Mueller goes for a layup during the first half of Tuesday’s WIAA Division 2 regional quarterfinal loss to Medford.

Leader photo by Jacy Zollar Shawano Community High School sophomore Nicholas Sherman drives past Medford’s Justin Sullivan during the first half of Tuesday’s WIAA Division 2 regional game. Medford defeated Shawano 60-56.

The Shawano boys basketball season ended Tuesday after falling 60-56 to Medford in a WIAA Division 2 regional quarterfinal matchup.

The No.9-seeded Hawks got into an early rhythm on their home court and held the No. 9 Raiders from scoring a basket until over four minutes into the game. Shawano held a 10-point lead midway through the first half and went into the half up 22-17.

Alex Mueller opened the second half with a bucket for the Hawks, but Medford started to gain momentum with three 3-pointers on an 11-8 run. The Raiders followed by shooting 9 of 10 free throws, and a steal and layup by their leading scorer, Cam Wenzel, tied the game 41-all with just under 7½ minutes to play.

Medford pulled ahead to a seven-point lead and with 20 seconds left, Kaden Richards sank a 3-pointer to put the Hawks down by four. The Raiders went 0-for-6 from the line and Jacob Lacy brought it to a one-bucket game with two free throws for the Hawks with 8.6 seconds. Medford answered with two shots at the line to seal the win.

“Whenever you have a home playoff game you want to come out and really put your best foot forward, and I thought we did that for most of the first half and in stretches in the second half,” Shawano head coach David Ambrosius said. “(Medford) did a good job pressuring us (in the second half) and we struggled at times handling the ball pressure. We kind of sped up and that caused us to get out of our rhythm.”

“We just kept battling and tried to set the tone on the defensive end, create some turnovers and speed up the game,” Medford head coach Ryan Brown said. “We knew that being down by five at halftime, if we came out and made some shots we still had a good chance.”

Wenzel was responsible for 19 of the Raiders’ 43 second-half points. He scored 27 total points, including 8 of 11 at the line.

“We knew they’d tire out chasing Cam (Wenzel) through screens, so we utilized him to make some big shots, and fortunately it worked and he just got hot.” Brown said.

The Hawks were led by senior Kaden Richards, who scored 21 points, including four 3-pointers. Richards is one of eight seniors on the team.

“It sucks losing like this and going out this way,” Richards said, “but with these guys and how close we are and all the memories, it was definitely a good last year. We’re pretty much a big family, that’s what we preach. We have it on our warmups and it’s what we say at break in every huddle. That’s how I describe this team, it’s family.”

For Ambrosius, this group of seniors is particularly special.

“This is a group that I came in with,” Ambrosius said. “They were sophomores when I first got the job, so it’s going to be tough. I haven’t been in a huddle without Cole Nelson or Kaden (Richards) or Dakota (Maltbey) ever before. It’s not going to be the same without them, but as a coach you always have the great memories that you had with those kids and that’s something that I’ll hold onto for the rest of my life.

“It would’ve been nice if we could’ve sent them off in a better fashion, but I’m so proud of the young men that these boys have grown up into before my eyes. As a coach, I can’t put into words how proud I am of them and their effort.”

Medford (60)

Justin Sullivan 0-0 3; Peyton Kuhn 2-4 4; Cam Wenzel 8-11 27; Dain Strick 1-4 8; Ben Lindgren 6-10 16.

Shawano (56)

Kaden Richards 1-3 21; Cole Nelson 0-0 8; Atty Wagner 0-0 4; Alex Mueller 4-6 10; Jacob Lacy 2-2 2; Brad Bartz 1-2 3; Dakota Maltbey 0-0 4; Carter Weisnicht 2-2 4.

Medford 17 43 — 60

Shawano 22 34 — 56