Crusaders lose in boys state semifinals

MADISON – Senior guard Dakota Zinser exploded for a career-high 33 points to power Green Bay Northeast Wisconsin Lutheran past the Sheboygan Lutheran Crusaders, 77-63, in a Division 5 boys state basketball tournament semifinal game Thursday afternoon at UWMadison’s Kohl Center.

The No. 2-ranked Crusaders ended their outstanding season with a 25-3 record. The No. 1-ranked Blazers were upset in Saturday’s championship game by Thorp, 49-42, to finish 27-2. The Blazers, who have placed second at state three times in the past five years, are coached by Plymouth native Mark Meerstein.

Zinser was red-hot from the field in the semifinals – hitting 10 of 12 shots, including 4-for-6 from three-point range. He was 9-for-10 at the foul line.

The Crusaders’ top scorer was senior guard Jeff Hess with 22 points, followed by junior guard Jake Jurss with 20. Hess also had a team-high eight rebounds.

Jurss led the Crusaders in assists with six. Senior forward Tyler Zastrow contributed a team-high three steals.

N.E.W. Lutheran outscored the Crusaders 19-7 in the third quarter to erase a 30-29 halftime deficit and seize a 48-37 lead.

The Blazers shot an excellent 54.9 percent from the field, compared with only 38.6 by the Crusaders. Nathan Toenjes had a double-double for the Blazers with 14 points and a team-best 12 rebounds. The Blazers led 39-24 in rebounding.

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