Badgers run to regional semifinal
By BURT ANGELI
NIAGARA, Wis. – Niagara needed all but 57 minutes to dispatch Phelps 48-21 in a WIAA Division 5 boys basketball tournament opener Tuesday.
The Badgers’ full-court trapping defense triggered a 25-0 blitz through the first 13 minutes.
“The first half we played great defense,” said Badgers coach Jim Hoogland, citing athleticism and quickness. “Our trapping was something they couldn’t handle.
“Overall, I’m pretty well pleased.”
The Badgers, who host Three Lakes in a regional semifinal Friday, will likely need that same full-court defensive success to make a long playoff run. Three Lakes defeated Florence 59-47 Tuesday.
“That’s who we are,” Hoogland said of the team defense. “The pressure and trapping make the game faster. The faster it gets the better we like it.”
A Nicholas Cirese bucket ended the shutout with 3:15 showing in the second quarter. The halftime margin was 29-5.
“This style fits the personality of this team,” Hoogland said. “They’re like racehorses and they want to go. I take the bit out of the mouth and say let’s go.”
Jordan Zawada’s 16 points paced the Badgers while Joey Swanson and Zach Zychowski each chipped in nine. Ryan Cirese collected 15 points for Phelps (2-17).
Phelps Coach Kregg Mueller believes Three Lakes may counter with pressure of its own and match up well to Niagara. The Knights also scored 21 points against Three Lakes in one game this season.
“Three Lakes is eight athletes deep,” said Hoogland, who scouted the Bluejays and Phelps with veteran assistant Mike Prost. “They’ll handle the press a lot better.”
The Badgers (16-7) and Three Lakes (10-13) will meet at 7 p.m.. Friday at Niagara. The winner advances to the regional final Saturday night.
Phelps 0 5 3 13 – 21
Niagara 16 13 14 5 – 48
PHELPS: Nicholas Cirese 4, Nathan Cirese 2, Ryan Cirese 15. FT: 2-2. F: 5.
NIAGARA:Walker 4, Swanson 9, Liebergen 3, Anderson 2, Zychowski 9, Parent 5, Zawada 16. FT: 1-4. F: 5.
3-point FG: Swanson, Zychowski, Parent, Zawada 2.