WIAA Regional semifinal: (3) Elkhorn 62, (6) Burlington 51

Runkel, Turzenski lead way down low, but guard play too much

Burlington senior Nick Webley recovered from a devastating leg injury to play the final few games of the the Demons’ season. He provided a spark in the playoff game. (Dwight Beuthling/SLN)

 

By Mike Ramczyk

sports@southernlakesnewspapers.com

      The host Elks came out sluggish in potentially their last home game of the season March 1.

Thanks to inside muscle from seventh-seeded Burlington’s 6-foot-6 twin towers, Dylan Runkel and Trent Turzenski, the Demons, who lost to the Elks twice during the regular season, were hanging close with the favorites midway through the first half.

But that’s when Elkhorn picked up the pace behind fast break action from the Umnus brothers and buckets from Chance Larson, William Lauderdale and Jordan Johnson for a furious 17-6 run to open a 14-point lead.

The Elks hit eight 3-pointers and scored from all over the court, as Vince Umnus’ 17 points led three players in double figures, and Johnson added nine.

Burlington was able to go on a 9-2 run to cut the lead to 31-24 early in the second half, but that was as close as it would get as the Elks executed a 13-6 run and held on for the victory.

Runkel led the Demons with 14 points, and Turzenski added 10.

“They do such a good job with their kids, they’re always tough and always disciplined,” Skatrud said of Burlington after the game. “We knew they would be a tough challenge. We didn’t take them for granted because we beat them twice. It’s always fun to win a tournament game. It wasn’t pretty at all times, but it’s nice to find a way in those type of games.”

“Their two big guys were horses, and our guards did a good job turning them over and getting them playing faster than they wanted, and that turned the game.”

 

Tough matchup

Burlington head coach Steve Berezowitz knew it would be a tall task to beat the Elks, who went on to upset second-seeded and state-ranked East Troy Saturday night to advance to sectionals.

“We knew this team would be fantastic,” said Burlington coach Steve Berezowitz. “They’re experienced, and they fill in their roster with a couple young kids that complement them well.”

“We zoned them a couple of times this year, and we basically thought we could man them. We really played well defensively all year again. The problem is we had 12 turnovers the first half, you’re giving them an extra 12 possessions, and it’s just too much.”

For Turzenski, who played his last game as a Demon, it was a tough loss.

“I don’t really know what to think right now, I wish we could get out there and play a couple more, but I appreciate the ride we had,” he said.

“They got up by 10, and we could never get back. They hit big shots when they needed to.”

Elkhorn’s tight man-to-man defense forced 12 Burlington first half turnovers and held leading scorer Joey Berezowitz to only six points.

But interior energy and effort from senior Nick Webley helped keep the Demons in the game early.

Turzenski, who does his damage inside with his height, was able to knock down a few triples to help the Demons claw back in the second half.

“A few months ago, maybe,” said Turzenski when asked about the last time he shot a 3-pointer. “I told coach in practice yesterday I was feeling good and I was going to hit a couple.”

 

Too much firepower

But the Elks always had an answer.

Nick Brown canned a 3-pointer to give Elkhorn a 51-37 lead, and then Vince Umnus stripped a Burlington player and found Johnson for a lightning-quick fast break to extend the lead to 53-37 with five minutes left.

Burlington senior Trey Krause hit a corner 3-pointer to cut it to 56-48 with 1:38 to play, but Larson and Vince Umnus shut down any comeback hopes with baskets.

The Umnus brothers set the tone early, and Elkhorn was able to crush the younger Demons on the perimeter and in transition throughout the game.

Peyton O’Laughlin and Krause each scored six points.

Turzenski led the Demons with eight rebounds.

Runkel, who scored eight points in the second half, was able to utilize his size in the post, but the Elks were able to limit him for the most part.

“It was the game plan to get inside,” Runkel said. “We had some good ball reversals, and I was getting open. But then it slowed down a little bit.”

“It was a really good year. I love playing with these boys. We’re young, and we have a lot of potential next year.”

Turzenski, Krause, Tucker Strommen, Matthew Ohm, Julian Luciano, Jacob Weithaus and Webley all played their last game as a Demon.

“I remember all the guys and the relationships I formed,” Turzenski said. “I love all those guys, and I hope the best for them.”

Burlington finished 12-12, improving by one game on last year’s 11-13 mark.

“I’m really happy about the season,” Berezowitz said. “We talked about ‘Can we get better and can we grow’? and we did that. It’s hard. You watch Webley (who was hurt all season) and part of me thinks what would it be like if we had him all season? He isn’t quite ready yet, but he gave us everything he had. We look back, and we grew. That’s all you can ask.”

 

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