Tigers win regional title in a thriller

by Matt Kraus Review Co respondent

ANDREW REINEMANN of Howards Grove tries to block a shot by Ozaukee’s Owen Miller in Saturday night’s regional basketball finals. – Photo by Terry Schaller ANDREW REINEMANN of Howards Grove tries to block a shot by Ozaukee’s Owen Miller in Saturday night’s regional basketball finals. – Photo by Terry Schaller HOWARDS GROVE – The stands were packed, extra seating was available along the south baseline and people stood on the north end of the Howard Grove gym Saturday night. The Ozaukee student section chanted and cheered the entire game while the Howards Grove students were more subdued but just as into the game.

School colors from other communities could be seen throughout the gym as this Division 4 boys basketball regional final was a little different than most.

A true winner-take-all affair was setting up as the Central Lakeshore Conference co-champions, Ozaukee Warriors and Howards Grove Tigers, met for the third time this season. The teams split the conference matchups – each winning in overtime on its home court. No one would expect anything different from this meeting.

HGHS ultimately prevailed with a 44-42 overtime victory as senior Alex Strege nailed a three-pointer as the buzzer sounded.

The No. 1-seeded Tigers improved their record to 19-5 and head to Sheboygan North on Wednesday at 7 p.m. for a sectional semifinal match-up with the St. Mary’s Spring (Fond du Lac) Ledgers.

Ozaukee, a No. 2 seed, ended its season at 19-5.

With 2:00 remaining and holding a 42-40 lead, the Warriors chose to spread the court, looking for a cut to basket. With 1:40 remaining Howards’ Ethan Brinkman grabbed a defensive rebound and was fouled, sending him to the free-throw line where he made one of two attempts, cutting the Warriors’ lead to one.

The Warriors again spread the floor and Derrick Grimm committed a defensive foul, sending Jacob Wolff to the line for a one-and-one attempt. Wolf missed the shot, but the Tigers were called for a lane violation, giving Wolff another shot.

Wolff missed the next attempt as well but two Tigers collided on the rebound attempt and the ball rolled out of bounds and back to the Warriors.

A Tiger foul sent the Warriors back to the line. Again the Warriors missed the front end of a bonus free throw. The Tigers grabbed the rebound and headed to the frontcourt, trailing 42-41. A Tigers’ timeout with 28 seconds remaining set up the final play.

As the Tigers worked the ball around the perimeter the clock fell inside of 10 seconds. The chaotic final 10 seconds saw several quick passes away from Ozaukee pressure and the ball bounced into Strege’s hands with 1.2 seconds showing on the clock.

Strege fired the three-point attempt from in front of the Howards bench and as the buzzer sounded the ball passed through the hoop. Pandemonium ensued as the students rushed the court to celebrate their Tigers’ 44-42 victory.

“It was a broken play and the ball rolled over to me. It wasn’t just desperation, I got a good shot and it felt good as I let it go,” said Strege.

“Alex stayed the course and trusted in himself. We wanted to attack right away [following the time out] but they packed in the lane.”

“This is the third overtime game we played, so we knew what was coming. We could have felt sorry for ourselves [after getting behind late] but we kept playing hard,” said Worth.

Heading to the fourth quarter, the Tigers held a 32-27 lead and looked to be in control of the game as they added to a three-point halftime lead.

Garret Hoffmann opened the scoring for Ozaukee in the fourth on a baseline drive but Jonah Gerber responded for the Tigers with two free throws. The teams exchanged empty possessions until Ozaukee senior guard Owen Miller came up with a steal on a deflected pass and went coast to coast for a layup.

The Warriors went into a halfcourt trap and forced a turnover that resulted in Miller hitting a 15-foot jumper to cut the Tigers’ lead to one with six minutes remaining.

As senior guard Zach Fritz crossed half court, the trap was on again, Fritz split the double team with a pass to Brinkman as he crashed to the floor. Brinkman drove to the hoop and drew a foul on the Warriors but Fritz continued to lay on the floor injured. When play resumed Brinkman made two free throws.

After a defensive hold, the Tigers committed another turnover. Elijah Mabry’s put back a breakaway miss to cut the Tiger lead to 36-35 with 3:38 remaining in regulation.

The Tigers called a timeout but committed a turnover out of the break. The defense held and Brinkman was able to add to the Tigers’ lead with two made free throws on the following possession.

The Warriors trap forced a Tigers’ timeout with 1:27 remaining as HGHS clung to a 38-35 lead. Brinkman committed an offensive foul after the break and Trent Benninghaus’ fourth foul of the game sent junior Mike Richter to line where he connected on one of two free throws.

On the next Tigers’ possession, Brinkman responded by making one of two free throws, giving the Tigers a 39-36 advantage with 43 seconds remaining in regulation.

Derrick Grimm was fouled on a breakaway following a steal, but missed the first shot in a bonus freethrow opportunity. Richter drew Benninghaus’ fifth and final foul on the next possession but only made one of two free throws.

Following a Warriors timeout, Brinkman drew a foul and made 1 of 2 free throws to give HGHS a 40-37 lead.

The Warriors quickly worked the ball up court and into the hands of a wide-open Hoffmann who hit a three-pointer from the left wing in front of his bench, with 1.2 second showing on the clock to tie the game at 40-40.

Brinkman’s heave from just beyond half-court missed at the buzzer.

The Tigers held the Warriors’ leading scoring Miller to 10 points, eight under his season average, with senior Andrew Reinemann drawing primary defensive responsibility.

“I need to be perfect on every possession. If I can’t be, I know someone is behind me to help. It is a team effort,” said Reinemann.

“Andrew is not flashy, but he does anything we ask. He stayed in front tonight and had help when needed,” said Worth.

Brinkman led the Tigers with 18 points and added six rebounds. Luke Stanczyk dished out a team-high three assists and added five rebounds to the Tigers’ effort.

Richter led Ozaukee in scoring with 18 and rebounds, 10. Miller had a team-high seven assists.


Score by Quarters Ozaukee...............10 10 7 13 2 – 42 How.Grove….......13109 84–44 Ozaukee: Owen Miller 10, Elijah Mabry 4, Jacob Wolf 3, Garrett Hoffmann 5, Mike Richter 18, Hunter Radtke 2. Three-point goals: Wolff 1, Hoffmann 1. Howards Grove scoring: Ethan Brinkman 18, Trent Beninghaus 4, Luke Stanczyk 2, Zach Fritz 9, Alex Strege 7, Andrew Reinemann 2, Jonah Gerber 2. Three-point goals: Brinkman 2, Strege 2, Fritz 1. Field goals: Howards Grove 13-29, 45%. Free throws: Ozaukee 4-8, 50%; Howards Grove 13-25, 52%. Rebounds: Ozaukee 21, Howards Grove 27. Turnovers: Ozaukee 11, Howards Grove 14.

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