Wild Rose’s Kane Cronkrite drives against Assumption’s Dennis Matott, heading to the basket where he’s fouled on a late game shot during the Feb. 26 boys’ sub-regional basketball matchup.

Wild Rose Wildcats defeat Wisconsin Rapids 58-52

It wasn’t pretty, and it could easily have been the end of the season for the Wild Rose Wildcats in the final minute, but the hosts of a Feb. 26 boys’ basketball regional matchup with the Wisconsin Rapids Assumption Royals managed a 58-52 win to advance to the second round.

“It was a hard fought victory,” said Wild Rose Head Coach Jeff Murphy. “We did enough to come away with the win. We dealt with adversity all year long, and that showed again tonight. We need to do a better job at composing ourselves in tight situations to be able to pull away from a team when we have the lead. Playoff basketball is all about surviving and advancing, live to fight another day. We’ll continue to work hard and get better.”

This particular game moved right along, with Wild Rose striking soon after receiving the opening tipoff on a Nick Wilbert bucket. Then, Assumption used up 3.5 minutes just passing the ball around before taking a shot, which they missed. Travis Jansen gave Wild Rose a 4-0 lead on a rebound.

Jarron Biebl got Assumption on the board to cut the Wild Rose lead in half, 4-2, but then Jansen extended it out, 6-2. Cole Statz wanted to help keep the visitors close by scoring 2, 6-4, but Jansen again came through for an 8-4 Wild Rose lead. Caleb Williams and Kane Cronkrite added scores for the hosts to widen the margin before Statz put in another score for Assumption. Williams put up a 3 for Wild Rose for a 15-6 lead before Dennis Matott put up a 3 for Assumption to bring about a 15-9 score in the game.

Jansen put up two more scores to extend the Wildcat lead, 19-9, forcing the Royals to take a timeout with 6:13 remaining in the first half of play. Colten Hanson got in on the scoring for Wild Rose with 5 points, including a 3-point shot, and Williams 2 of 2 free throws for a commanding 26-9 lead. Jansen wasn’t finished as he scored three more times, and Assumption’s Matott two more times to arrive at halftime with a 32-13 margin in favor of the Wildcats.

Jansen racked up 16 points in the half for Wild Rose, with Williams gathering 7 points, and Hanson 5. The Wildcats only registered 2 fouls, and the Royals had 4. Matott had 7 points for Assumption and Statz had 4.

Assumption spent the earlier portion of the second half narrowing the margin with a 3-point shot from Statz, 5 points from Nick Smits, including a 3-pointer, and a basket from Matott for a 32-23 margin. Sam Walters put away 2 free throws for a 34-23 score, but Smits put in two more points for Assumption, with Cameron Kopacz adding two free throws to bring the visitors within 7, 34-27. For the remainder of the game, the hosts struggled to stay ahead as the visitors closed within 4 and then 3.

Statz racked up 19 points in the half for the Royals, hitting five 3-point shots, while Smits gathered 12 points. Kopacz added 6 points, 4 of 4 free throws, and Biebl 2 of 2 free throws. Wild Rose had gone back up by 11, but quickly saw the lead diminished. With 58.8 seconds left, the hosts only held a 3-point head, 53-50. A few trips to the free throw line became crucial as it gave the Wildcats enough room to win, despite the Royals having made free throws with 4.2 seconds left in the game.

Wild Rose won in the end, 58-52, with both team committing 10 fouls. Williams had 9 points in the second half, hitting 7 of 8 free throws, while Jansen had 6 points, going 4-4 at the free throw line. Walters added 4 points, 2 of 2 free throws, while Cronkrite added 3 points, and Hanson 2 of 2 free throws.

Travis Jansen topped the six Wild Rose scorers with 22 points, going 4-4 at the free throw line, while Caleb Williams produced 16 points, going 9-10 at the free throw line and sinking a 3-point shot. Colten Hanson gathered 7 points, going 2-2 at the free throw line, and sinking a 3-point shot.

The Wildcats were 18-21 at the free throw line, while committing 12 fouls. The recorded two 3-point shots.