A second half surge pushed the McDonell boys basketball team past Luck 65-56 in a Division 5 sectional championship on Saturday at Chi-Hi.
Behind first-year coach Adam Schilling, the Macks advanced to the state tournament for the fourth consecutive year. McDonell earned a No. 4 seed for the state tournament and opens play on Friday morning at 9:05 a.m. against top-seeded Sheboygan Area Lutheran in Madison.
“I don’t think anybody wanted to end our season the way we played in the first half,” Schilling said. “I know we played hard but we didn’t play that smart. The second half we played smart and lot harder and I think it really paid off for us.”
McDonell trailed by five at the break but used a 13-0 run to start the second half to take a lead it wouldn’t relinquish.
Cory Hoglund drilled a 3-pointer on the opening possession as he came off a screen and found some room on the perimeter. Eion Kressin made the most of an offensive rebound to tie the game and JD Bohaty connected from deep to take the lead.
Jaebin Bourget turned a turnover in a a 3-point play getting the fast break and making a free throw. Hoglund scored the Macks’ 13th consecutive point by getting to the offensive boards and putting back a missed Kressin shot.
“It was a question if we wanted our season to be done and none of our guys wanted the season to be done so we just battled back.”
Luck responded with four straight point after three empty possession from McDonell to make it a four-point game with about 13 minutes to play in the game.
A 7-0 spurt by the Macks pushed their lead to 11. Bohaty made another triple off the inside-out pass from Kressin. Kressin scored in the post and made two free throws sandwiched between a bucket by Hoglund off an assist from Bourget.
McDonell led by as many as 14 as Kressin found another opening inside to go up 53-39 with 8:49 to play.
“I just think it was a lot of my teammates feeding me. I think that helped a lot,” Kressin said. “I could kick it out if I needed to and I could rely on them making shots when they needed to.”
Johansen capped a 9-3 run on a triple that cut the Macks’ lead to eight with 2:07 to go in the game.
Charlie Bleskachek iced the game with a fast break score to break the zone with 57 seconds left to go up by 10 points.
“We have really good leadership. Our seniors have been solid all year,” Schilling said. “They don’t give up. We make it a little harder than we want to sometimes but they always responded.”
Luck started the game on a 9-2 run courtesy of three 3-pointers and held to a 13-8 lead with 10 minutes to play in the first half.
The Macks took their first lead 26-24 following 3-pointers on back-to-back possession by JD Bohaty and Jaebin Bourget but the Cardinals scored seven consecutive points to close the half as Johansen made his fourth triple of the half in the closing seconds.
The Cardinals made six shots from deep in the first half and only two after the break.
“Our defensive pressure in the second half was better,” Schilling said. “We kept them off the 3-point line a lot better than in the first half. We held them to one shot which is big.”
The Macks had four players in double figures with Cory Hoglund leading the way with 19 points. Eion Kressin continued his strong postseason play by adding 15. JD Bohaty tallied 13 and Bourget scored 12.
Johansen led Luck with 29 points on six made 3-pointers, while Levi Jensen added 15.
Kressin continues to play well in the postseason going for more than 12 points for the fourth time in five playoff games.
“He’s been the difference for us when we made our run,” Schilling said. “We always have had the outside game going but when we add that inside dimension it just makes everything easier for everybody.”
Bourget entered double figures for the first time this season making two 3-pointers and creating offense with his defense.
“I knew I could do it all year. (I’ve been) filling my role doing what I had to do to win the game,” Bourget said. “It’s not a one person thing, a one-guy team.”
“The last five to seven games Jaebin has put everything he has into basketball I believe and I think that has really helped him. He’s been a lot more focused,” Schilling said of Bourget.
McDonell travels back the state tournament looking to avenge last year’s defeat in the championship game. In 2016 the Macks captured a state title and in 2017 they fell in a semifinal game.
“Coach really told us if you want to keep going, if you want to make it to state you go to show up (in the second) half and I think we did,” Kressin said. “We came out right away and showed everyone we really wanted to make it to state.”