Tigers fall shy of state against reigning champs

by Greg Ceilley
of The Review staff


ERIC REINEMANN of Howards Grove tries to shoot over Dominican’s 6-foot-8 center Will Jelacic in Saturday’s sectional basketball finals. The Knights’ Kostas Antetokounmpo watches. – Photo by Terry Schaller ERIC REINEMANN of Howards Grove tries to shoot over Dominican’s 6-foot-8 center Will Jelacic in Saturday’s sectional basketball finals. The Knights’ Kostas Antetokounmpo watches. – Photo by Terry Schaller WAUKESHA – The Howards Grove Tigers gave No. 1-ranked and four-time defending Division 4 state champion Whitefish Bay Dominican all it could handle before falling, 52-45, in a hard-fought boys sectional final Saturday afternoon at Waukesha West.

The Knights, 25-1, advance to the D-4 state tournament for the fifth straight year. HGHS, which lost to Dominican in last year’s sectional finals (77-52), ended an outstanding season at 21-5.

Fueled by their swarming manto man defense, the Tigers were in the game the whole way and battled the powerful Knights down to the waning seconds. Dominican’s point total tied its lowest output of the season.

“I’m so proud of the way the boys competed. They left it all out there and we didn’t lose because of lack of effort. We just ran out of time,” said Tiger head coach Eric Worth.


DEVIN GALLENBERGER of Howards Grove is surrounded by Dominican defenders on a drive to the hoop in Saturday’s sectional basketball finals. The Knights’ defenders are Kostas Antetokounmpo (1), Ralen Brown (4), Gacoby Jones (top right) and Michael Ferrici. – Photo by Terry Schaller DEVIN GALLENBERGER of Howards Grove is surrounded by Dominican defenders on a drive to the hoop in Saturday’s sectional basketball finals. The Knights’ defenders are Kostas Antetokounmpo (1), Ralen Brown (4), Gacoby Jones (top right) and Michael Ferrici. – Photo by Terry Schaller “Our defense is what has kept us going all-year long. It starts there for us and really gets everything else going for us.

“We took care of what we needed to do on defense but our offense struggled a little bit. This is what Dominican has done to everyone they played so far this year. Their length is really tough to compete against but I thought our guys put forth their best effort,” said Worth.


JORDAN MILLER, Howards Grove forward, pressures Dominican’s Chris Fuller who looks for an open teammate in Saturday’s sectional basketball title game. Also pictured are Dominican’s Kostas Antetokounmpo (right) and the Tigers’ Devin Gallenberger (middle) and Eric Reinemann. – Photo by Terry Schaller JORDAN MILLER, Howards Grove forward, pressures Dominican’s Chris Fuller who looks for an open teammate in Saturday’s sectional basketball title game. Also pictured are Dominican’s Kostas Antetokounmpo (right) and the Tigers’ Devin Gallenberger (middle) and Eric Reinemann. – Photo by Terry Schaller The Tigers had outstanding helpdefense which limited the Knights’ inside scoring. HGHS did an excellent job on its defensive glass – allowing only a few second shots by the bigger Dominican team.

Dominican went on a 14-6 run to build a 48-34 lead with 2:06 remaining. Sophomore guard Gacoby Jones keyed the spurt with eight points – all in a row at the outset. Jones buried a three-pointer, followed by a jumper and then a three-point play in which he blew by the defender for a driving layup and then hit the free throw after being fouled.

Undaunted, the Tigers responded with an 11-3 surge which pulled them to within 51-45 with 39 seconds left. Senior guard/forward Devin Gallenberger sparked the comeback with six points on three baskets – each off drives to the hoop. Derrick Grimm contributed a trey and Bryce Pedrin canned a jumper.

After Kostas Antetokounmpo (younger brother of the Milwaukee Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo) made 1 of 2 free throws to give the Knights a 52-45 lead with 32 seconds left, the Tigers came up empty on its final two possessions. Dominican missed eight free throws in the last 1:32 which helped the Tigers come back.

The Tigers struggled scoring inside against a much bigger Dominican front line, led by 6-foot-9 Antetokounmpo and 6-8 Will Jelacic who blocked four and three shots, respectively.

However, the Tigers kept attacking the basket and were able to score some points inside which complimented their three-point shooting which produced six goals. Gallenberger and Pedrin led HGHS in three-point goals with two each.


ERIC WORTH (middle), Howards Grove head coach, and the bench urge on the Tigers during Saturday’s sectional basketball finals against Dominican. – Photo by Terry Schaller ERIC WORTH (middle), Howards Grove head coach, and the bench urge on the Tigers during Saturday’s sectional basketball finals against Dominican. – Photo by Terry Schaller “I expected a good battle. They’re [the Tigers are] a great team,” said Knight head coach Derek Berger.

Berger pointed to his defense as the biggest key to the win.

“We always talk about ball pressure, and if we can pressure the ball, then typically good things will happen for us,” he said.

“Howards Grove did a good job with the [Knights’] ball pressure and were able to get to the paint sometimes and make plays. We were fortunate to come out on top.

“We don’t want to give up easy shots and we want to make it difficult, and hopefully we did it well enough,” said Berger.

The Tigers fell behind 6-0 at the start of the game as they committed three turnovers and missed their first five shots from the floor.

HGHS rallied with a 9-2 spurt to take a 9-8 lead – its only one of the game – at the 8:40 mark in the opening half. Gallenberger’s trey put the Tigers on the board. Pedrin hit five points on a three-ball and a driving layup to spark the rally. The HGHS defense forced five turnovers during its comeback.

Trailing 17-10, the Tigers climbed to within 17-16 after Gallenberger drilled a three-pointer, followed by a three-point play off a short jumper with 2:10 remaining in the first half.

Jake Bennett’s trey gave the Knights a 20-16 halftime lead.

Gallenberger led HGHS in scoring with 18 points and Pedrin netted 13. Pedrin and Grimm paced the team in assists with three and two, respectively.

Gallenberger and Micah Rautmann led the Tigers on the boards with four rebounds each.

“All the guys played really hard,” said Gallenberger. “I’m very proud of the team.

“It’s definitely different going in there against 6-11 [actually 6-9] and 6-8 guys. We just tried not to adjust our shots and to just play like we normally do, and if it gets blocked, nine times out of 10 it goes out of bounds and it’s our ball again, so just keep playing.

Jones led a balanced Dominican offense with 16 points, including 14 in the second half. Antetokounmpo added 12 points but was held scoreless in the first half.

Jones spearheaded a very quick, aggressive Knight defense which had good ball pressure most of the game and made HGHS work hard for shots. Jones had a team-high four steals. Jelacic paced Dominic in rebounds with six.

Dominican held the Tigers to their second-lowest point total of the season.

“They have only allowed two teams this year to score over 60 points and that was our magic number. Obviously, we fell short of that goal but that was our thought going into it,” said Worth.

“We missed some open looks early on that I think could have really gave our guys some confidence against that tough defense they have.”

A key statistic was free-throw shooting. Dominican outscored HGHS 15-7 at the foul line.


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