Bobcats pass tourney test
Florence to host Goodman-Pembine tonight for regional title
FLORENCE, Wis. — Down by a bucket at the half, Florence fought back with four players scoring in double figures and defeated Northern Lakes Conference foe Elcho 71-59 in a WIAA Division 5 Regional semifinal here Friday night.
Sophomore Dominic DeMuri powered home 19 points. Junior Patrick Millan netted 17 points, with Millan snaring 13 rebounds and DeMuri 10 rebounds of his own for a pair of double-doubles to lead the Bobcats.
Freshman William Kelley drained 12 of his 16 points in the second half, with three trifectas.
Florence sophomore point guard Evan Johnson chipped in 14 points, eight rebounds and seven assists.
The game started out with both teams in zone defenses, the Hornets in a 1-3-1 and the host Bobcats in a 2-3. As the first half wore on, Elcho’s 1-3-1 gave the Bobcats trouble, as the Hornets were moving their feet and playing aggressive defense.
Both teams were pushing the tempo of their offense in the early stages, though it was the visiting team that took an early lead, with the outside shooting accuracy of junior Seth Schuett, who hit three triples early in the game, on his way to a game-high 24 points.
At the 11:01 mark, Florence head coach Bryan Bomberg called a timeout and lit a fire underneath his players. They responded with a ferocious 6-0 run in less than 90 seconds, working the ball inside to Millan who powered home baskets on three consecutive possessions to tie the game at 14-14.
“I was worried about this game all day,” Bomberg said. “This was gonna be the third time we played them this season, and we blew them out at their place recently. I knew they’d be ready to play and they were.”
As the first half wore on, Elcho was more patient in their half court sets, getting better looks at the basket. They were putting 1/2 to 3/4 court pressure on the Florence guards as they brought the ball up the court, but the score of the game remained a see-saw affair.
Florence worked at getting the last shot of the half, but the shot attempt didn’t fall. Elcho got the ball back, hurried down the court and got the ball inside to senior Kolton Schmidt who laid it up and in for two of his 17 points. Elcho took a 30-28 lead into the locker room.
“I really wanted the boys to play full court pressure throughout the game, because the Bobcats can all shoot well,” said Elcho head coach Michelle Kincaid. “Once our shots stopped falling, they started getting hot.”
“Our defense wasn’t very good in the first half,” Bomberg stated. “We didn’t close off passing lanes and let them have too many second chance shots.”
As the second half started, the Bobcats came out in a man-to-man defense and the Hornets remained in their 1-3-1. At the 13:36 mark, Florence took their first lead of the half, 37-36.
The Bobcats extended their lead to eight points with 10 minutes remaining. At that point, Schuett made everyone’s heads spin as he scored eight points on three straight possessions in approximately 35 seconds.
Schuett drained a three, stole the Bobcats inbound pass and made a jump shot, then lined up for another trey and drained it after a quick score by the Bobcats. The eight point spurt cut the Bobcats’ lead to 47-45.
The Hornets, however, got cold offensively and the Bobcats picked up their intensity, extending the lead to 57-50 with under five minutes remaining. With 2:30 to go, Florence held a 10-point lead, which seemed to take the wind out of their NLC opponents.
The Bobcats pulled away down the stretch, making their free throws and moving the ball well in their offensive sets.
The Hornets, who finished the season at 10-11, lost their third game of the season to Florence.
“Late in the game, we couldn’t finish on our transition opportunities,” Kincaid said.
Florence will return to action tonight, as they will host another NLC opponent, Goodman-Pembine, in the regional championship game at 7 p.m.
G-P defeated Three Lakes 69-64 in two overtimes at Goodman-Armstrong Creek High School.
G-P and the Bobcats split their two regular season meetings. The Patriots won 69-62 at Florence on Dec. 10, while the Bobcats won the most recent meeting, 73-59 at Beecher-Dunbar-Pembine School on Feb 2.
Tonight’s rubber match will be for a regional championship trophy and spot in a Division 5 Sectional semifinal game on Thursday night.
Elcho 30 29 — 59
Florence 28 43 — 71
ELCHO: Slowik 3, Schuett 24, Schmidt 17, Kupfer 3, Novak 12; FT: 4-9; F: 13; Fouled Out: None; 3-point FG: Kupfer, Schuett 6.
FLORENCE: Millan 17, DeMuri 19, Kelley 16, McLain 4, Schuls 1, Johnson 14; FT: 10-20; F: 9; Fouled Out: None; 3-point FG: Johnson 2, Kelley 3. Rebounds 37, Millan 13, DeMuri 10.