WIAA Division 2 boys basketball: Jalen Johnson leads Nicolet to the promised land
A foregone conclusion?
Not quite. But Glendale Nicolet junior big men Jalen Johnson and Jamari Sibley went out Saturday night and made sure there would be no upset on the Kohl Center floor.
Sibley scored 23 points and Johnson racked up 20 points and 20 rebounds to carry Nicolet (27-1) to a 67-54 victory over Milwaukee Washington (22-6) at the Kohl Center.
“It feels great. There’s no better feeling in the world right now,” Johnson said in a postgame television interview.
“It was what we’ve been waiting for all season,” Sibley added. “With this great group of guys, I wouldn’t want to win it with anyone else.”
The Knights, ranked seventh nationally by USA Today and tops in Division 2, took control with a first-half run for a 33-20 lead.
And in the second half, the Purgolders drew no closer than eight points, on a pair of free throws by sophomore forward Michael Foster Jr. to make it 59-51 with 1 minute, 22 seconds remaining.
“It’s a special group, to bring this school its first state championship,” Nicolet coach Allan Hanson said. “This group of guys, man. They wanted it, they worked for it. And I’m proud.”
Senior Deontay Long, a 6-5 forward, led Washington with 24 points and 11 rebounds, and Foster added 13 points and eight rebounds.
But Washington couldn’t overcome 1-for-14 shooting from 3-point range and 12 turnovers.
Jalen Johnson, who helped Sun Prairie make the Division 1 state semifinals last year, transferred to Nicolet along with his brother, sophomore guard Kobe Johnson, after a family move to the Milwaukee area.
Kobe Johnson added eight points to the Nicolet effort, as did sophomore forward James Graham.
Washington also got 10 points from Anthony “Tre” White, a sophomore guard.