Underdogs get all the way to regional finals, fall in close battle

Paul Nevin works hard for a shot in recent action. (John Fisher/SLN)

 

By Mike Ramczyk

sports@southernlakesnewspapers.com

It’s times like these when those lopsided drubbings against Dominican and Martin Luther on those frigid winter nights pay off.

The Greater Metro Conference featured three state-ranked teams, and several other quality clubs, and the Catholic Central boys, with no seniors, took their fair share of beatings during the regular season.

But the idea is to prepare the Toppers with strong Division 3 and 4 competition during the season so they are ready for the Division 5 playoffs, where they in theory would battle lesser opponents who haven’t had as strong of competition.

Last weekend, the sixth-seeded Toppers traveled to No. 3 Hilbert and stole a 48-35 upset victory before battling second-seeded Hustisford on the road Saturday night.

The junior-led Toppers rallied in the second half but came up short in the WIAA Division 5 regional final, 46-43.

Catholic Central (11-14) finished its playoff run with two wins and plenty of momentum for next season, when the entire team returns.

“Playoff wins are hard to come by,” head coach Kyle Scott said. “Two wins for us will hopefully set the table for a big season next year with everyone coming back.”

 

Hustisford controls first half

On Saturday, Catholic Central trailed Hustisford, 26-17, at the half, but rallied all the way back to a two-point deficit with two minutes to go.

A 3-pointer that rimmed in and out would’ve given the Toppers the lead.

Instead, the Falcons were able to pull away.

Hustisford switched to a 1-3-1 zone in the second half, and the Toppers got hot from beyond the arc with three consecutive triples.

“It was a great game in a hostile environment,” Scott said. “Our defensive energy picked up, and we got a couple of easy transition buckets.”

Brandon Pum led the Toppers with 20 points, including 4-9 from beyond the arc.

He hit 8 of 15 from the field.

In three playoff games, Pum averaged 16 points.

“Brandon has been great the past two months,” Scott said. “Benny Wright and Chas Miles have also been good down the stretch. David Doerflinger is our lockdown defender, and he was tremendous.”

“Really it was a complete team effort the second half of the season.”

Wright added nine points and five assists against Hustisford.

 

Big road victory

On paper, host Hilbert was seeded higher than the Toppers and boasted a 16-6 record, but Catholic Central was ready.

The Toppers led, 17-14, at the half, then ran away with the game with a 31-21 second half.

“It was a good win for our young team on Friday,” Scott said. “By seeding it was an upset, but we knew we were ready to play a good Hilbert team. We played great defense and executed the game plan on both ends to perfection.”

Catholic Central shot 50 percent from the field as a team and featured three players in double figures – Wright with 13, and Doerflinger and Paul Nevin with 10 each.

Also, the Toppers were money from the foul line, hitting 16 of 22 shots.

Nevin was a monster on the glass, adding 10 rebounds.

Pum added nine points, seven rebounds and four assists.

The team’s 11 wins equal the amount it had the past two years combined.

Scott likes the team’s progress.

“I think we made huge strides this season,” he said. “We’ll need to continue to get better throughout the summer. If we work like we did last summer, it will give us an opportunity to be successful.”

 

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