For a high school basketball player, or most basketball players for that matter, 23 points is not a below-average night, but when you're New Berlin Eisenhower junior Reed Timmer, there's a different set of standards.
As the top-seeded Lions (21-3) ousted the visiting Whitnall Falcons, 61-51, Saturday night in a WIAA Division 2 regional title game, Timmer was just shy of his season average of 25 points per game.
That was enough, though, for the Lions to move on to sectional play, albeit after a fierce fight from the Falcons.
Both teams put on an impressive shooting display, combining for 15 three-pointers. Whitnall made eight, including four from senior guard Mitch Brault, and Ike connected on seven, with senior guard Corbin Messman also hitting four behind the arc.
"I can't be upset," said Whitnall head coach Steve Kujawa, whose team advanced with a 75-73 triumph over Bay View on Friday (see separate story).
"We gave everything that we had," he continued. "We left it on the floor. I'm very proud of this team. We had 10 seniors who did everything they could to put us in a position to win. The prognosticators did not expect us to do anything this season. A 15-8 season, you can't ask for anything more."
The Falcons drilled three 3-pointers in the opening quarter to build a 15-11 lead, but in the second, Timmer did what he's done all year for Ike - hit big shots.
Two minutes into the second quarter with the Falcons ahead, 18-16, Timmer swatted a pass at midcourt, beat his man to the ball and used a behind-the-back maneuver to create a clear path to the basket. A lagging defender fouled Timmer as he converted the basket, and he made the bonus free throw to give the Lions a 19-18 lead.
The Lions controlled the rest of the half and took a 27-22 lead into halftime, but the Falcons had plenty of fight left.
Brault scored eight unanswered points, including two 3-pointers, to give Whitnall the lead back at 32-29. Whitnall senior guard Dan Weymier converted a three-point play to give his team a 39-39 tie at the end of the third.
The Lions finally found separation in the fourth quarter from the hot hand of Messman, who utilized screens to connect from downtown on three straight possessions to give the Lions a 48-41 lead.
Whitnall was forced into intentional fouls, and clutch shooting from the line allowed the Lions to cruise.
"All of those guys can shoot," Kujawa said. "We talked about how we just have to defend against their flex offense. We got our hands in their face, we played hard. They just made more shots than we did."
Eisenhower head coach Dave Scheidegger was not surprised the Falcons gave his team all it could handle.
"Whitnall's got great ball skills," Scheidegger said. "They can all pass, shoot, dribble. They're a challenge.
"I'm not sure we ever stopped them."
Weymier led Whitnall with 18 points and Brault added 14.
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