Warriors dominate rubber match with L-Cats, advance to regional final
LAKE MILLS — As the game hung in the balance, Lakeside Lutheran knew Lake Mills wouldn’t go away quietly.
Lakeside burst out to an early advantage and separated itself in the first half. Lake Mills came out for the second half with increased energy seeking a run to get back into the game for good.
The Warriors hovered out in front with a double-digit lead before Will DeNoyer sealed the game for good with eight points in a 15-3 run as Lakeside earned a 65-36 victory against Lake Mills in a WIAA Division 3 boys basketball regional semifinal on Friday night.
Even though Lakeside held a 43-31 lead after JT Toepfer converted an old-fashion 3-point play with 10 minutes, 9 seconds remaining in the game, DeNoyer said he felt somewhat uneasy with the game hanging in the balance.
“I totally felt it. Any time you’re not up by 20 (points) against these guys, it’s a dangerous game,” DeNoyer said. “You’re never safe until it’s put away or the buzzer goes off. That’s how good these guys are and how instantly they can score nine, 10 points.”
The dagger-driving run was completed by a bucket by senior post Jack Monis, who led all scorers with 16 points. His final bucket finished the run and gave the Warriors a 58-34 lead with 4:41 to play.
“It’s Lake Mills, you always have to be worried about them having a run, right?” Monis said. The L-Cats won on a buzzer-beater in the season’s first matchup in January. In February, Lakeside defeated Lake Mills, 61-54. “(DeNoyer) really put the foot on their throats. Last time, we let them hang around and it felt like it was going to break one way or another and we let them get going. This time we broke it open.”
The L-Cats couldn’t make a run because they couldn’t string made shots together. Sophomore Adam Moen made the only 3-pointer of the night for Lake Mills with 16:19 to play in the contest. Moen finished with a team-high 10 points. Lakeside reserve Caleb “Bear” Raymond, who specializes in boxing out and post defense, made a 3-pointer from the top of the key in the first half.
“They missed some, but we really guarded well too,” Lakeside coach Kirk DeNoyer said. “I don’t think we gave them many uncontested looks the whole game. I was really proud of our defense and the way they played tonight.”
The L-Cats made 1 of 18 attempts from distance. Lakeside made seven 3-pointers, including three from DeNoyer and two from Matt Davis.
“We didn’t shoot well, but it was because of their defense,” Lake Mills coach Steve Hicklin. “That was their Mona Lisa and it was our noodle collage, but it was because of the intensity that they had. I thought the difference was between a bunch of seniors fighting to keep their careers alive versus a young team fighting to keep a season alive. That was the difference.”
Lake Mills only has one senior: Toepfer. The Warriors roll with nine. Kirk DeNoyer said his seniors have ramped up their intensity.
“They did not want the season to end and I know (the L-Cats) didn’t want their season to end either, but there’s a difference between young players and seniors,” DeNoyer said. “These guys were all on the team as sophomore and there’s a difference for them as seniors and now. They’ve practiced great all year, but the last two weeks have been unbelievable. They’re really clicking at the right time and it’s really just a great effort.”
Added Toepfer, “They bring it every night, but then they were hitting 3s tonight. Defensively, they were doing things we didn’t want to do. They’re a heck of a defensive game. Paske played a heck of a game, Monis killed us on the boards. We couldn’t box them out; their intensity was off the roof, but it’s like coach says, ‘Give it your best and live with it.’”
Paske scored 12 points.
The Warriors opened the game on a 13-3 run capped off by DeNoyer who contorted his body in the lane and got a friendly roll on the rim with 12:11 to play.
“Throughout my whole high school career, Will has set the bar and I’ve always tried to pace myself with him,” Toepfer said. After DeNoyer put the game out of reach for good, Toepfer and DeNoyer spent the entirety of a four-minute delay exchanging laughs while the refs sorted out the exact number of fouls each team had. Lake Mills had been in the bonus sooner than the scoreboard indicated. Meanwhile, Toepfer and DeNoyer were able to catch up. “We were just talking about life, what we were going to do in college. He’s one of the best players I’ve ever played against. It’s amazing to be part of something special with him. He’s a hell of a player.”
Lakeside Lutheran will continue its season against Greendale Martin Luther at 7 p.m.
LAKESIDE LUTHERAN 65, LAKE MILLS 36
Lake Mills 21 15 — 36
Lakeside 37 28 — 65
Lake Mills (fg-ft-tp) — Herrington 1-0-1, Toepfer 2-3-7, Stoddard 0-1-1, Retrum 1-3-5, Moen 4-1-10, Bender 2-0-4, Johnson 4-0-8. Totals — 13 9-17 36.
Lakeside (fg-ft-tp) — DeNoyer 6-0-15, Kuepers 1-2-5, Davis 3-0-8, Schneider 1-0-2, Paske 5-2-12, Monis 6-4-16, Ulrich 1-0-2, Raymond 2-0-5. Totals — 25 8-12 65.
Three-pointers — LM, Moen), LL, DeNoyer 3, Davis 2, Kuepers, Raymond.
Total Fouls — LM 14, LL 17.