Tigers repeat as regional champions

by Matt Kraus Review Co respondent

THE HOWARDS GROVE  Tigers’ bench applauds the team’s play as the regional basketball title game versus Oshkosh Lourd winds down Saturday night. The Tigers won, 65-51. – Review photo by Greg Ceilley

THE HOWARDS GROVE  Tigers’ bench applauds the team’s play as the regional basketball title game versus Oshkosh Lourd winds down Saturday night. The Tigers won, 65-51. – Review photo by Greg Ceilley

HOWARDS GROVE – Two nights after watching the Howards Grove Tigers girls basketball team lose a heartbreaking, double-overtime, sectional semifinal thriller against the Oshkosh Lourdes Academy Knights, the Tigers and Knights boys basketball teams battled in a Division 4, regional final on Saturday.

The No. 2-seeded Tigers found themselves in a first half slug-out with the No. 3-seeded Knights. The teams saw halftime come with the Tigers leading 24-21. The Tigers endured a Knights’ early second-half run and four-point lead to eventually pull away for a convincing 65-51 victory.

“The win is very important to us [seniors] because we knew it could be our last game. The players had this as a preseason goal,” said senior Devin Gallenberger.

“The win is very important to us. We worked hard all year to get here,” said senior Derrick Grimm.

“We competed today and played as hard as we could. We’ve worked all year to improve on a day-to-day basis. I coach the team hard and they have been willing to compete and bring-it each day. This is a by-product of that,” said Tiger head coach Worth.

The victory, which gave the Tigers their second straight regional crown, upped their record to 20- 4. The Tigers advance to the sectional semifinals against top-seeded Markesan at 7 p.m. on Thursday at Sheboygan North.

Markesan enters the game 24-0, ranked No. 8 in the wissports.net coaches poll and No. 11 in the Associated Press poll, and champions of the Trailways- North Conference (16-0).

Opening the second half, HGHS pounded the ball inside to senior Nick Brickner but were unable to score.

Meanwhile, junior, forward Sam Gelhar hit two baseline jumpers to give the Knights a one-point lead, one minute into the second half. Ben Seibold added a score on an open drive to the hoop and a free throw to give Lourdes a 28-24 lead before Micah Rautmann scored on a reverse layup for the Tigers.

Gallenberger followed with floater in the lane to tie the game. The Knights’ leading scorer this season, Evan Ganther, responded with a three-pointer and drive to the hoop to give Lourdes a five-point lead and a Tigers’ timeout with 14:12 to play.

Eric Reinemann drew a foul on a drive to the hoop and made two free throws. Bryce Pedrin and Gallenberger followed with three-point baskets to give the Tigers a 36-33 Tigers’ lead. The Knights called a timeout to regroup but could not take advantage of the break.

Two possessions later, Grimm scored on a layup following his steal when Knights’ point guard Ben Huizenga fell during Grimms’ backcourt pressure. A series later, Grimm hit a three-pointer.

“Our offense starts with Derrick’s defense. He is always hustling. On offense he gets us in transition,” said Gallenberger.

“I’ve been doing the same thing all year. I want to get a stop on defense because our offense starts with our defense,” said Grimm.

Seibold hit a free throw for Lourdes and Caleb Holzman gave the Tigers a 44-36 lead on a threepoint basket.

The following Knights’ possession saw Ganther injure his ankle on a spin move to the basket with 9:35 remaining. He would not return. Prior to an official timeout for Ganther’s injury, Pedrin picked up a steal.

When play resumed, Pedrin hit a three-pointer for a 47-36 lead. Gelhar scored inside for the Knights and Lourdes called a timeout.

After an exchange of turnovers, the Tigers went on an 8-0 run by getting the ball into the paint. Another Lourdes time out followed at the 5:15 mark and the Tigers leading 55- 38.

“We don’t have a single leader on this team. We play as a collective group. If one person is having on off day, someone else is there to lead to lead,” said Worth.

The Tigers won the opening tip and went right inside to Jordan Miller for an early 2-0. As the game proceeded, the teams battled to a 7-7 tie until Pedrin hit a three- pointer with 13 minutes remaining in the first half. Later, a bounce pass from Pedrin to Rautmann extended the Howards Grove lead to 12-7.

The Knights weren’t done and tied the game 12-12 on a layup by Gelhar and Huizenga’s three-pointer.

Grimm answered with a traditional three-point play to start a 10-4 Tigers’ run which gave them a 22-16 lead with six minutes to play.

Lourdes (17-7) outscored HGHS 5-0 over the next five minutes to pull within one at 22-21. Gallenberger drove and scored on a jump-stop with 52 seconds remaining to conclude the first-half scoring.

Gallenberger led the team with 21 points and eight rebounds. Reinemann led with three steals and Pedrin had a team-high four assists while adding 16 points.

“Devin is our go-to player,” said Grimm.

“I am glad Bryce and others are scoring for us. It makes us hard to defend when many people score,” said Gallenberger.

“Derrick played awesome today. This game was right there with his play in the [Big East] conference tournament championship [won by HGHS]. It was one of his two best games of the year,” said Worth.

“He makes the right plays for us and is willing to anything for the team,” said Worth.

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