Cheesemakers withstand Edgerton's challenge
Edgerton High’s boys basketball coach had his team take its time all afternoon and was content, with a two-point lead and 2:42 left in the first half, to run out the clock for a final shot. Ryan Ludwig missed his off-balance jumper with two seconds remaining, but the Crimson Tide held serve at the break, 29-27.
Unfortunately for Edgerton, the lead was short-lived. The defending state champions broke away with a 13-4 run, ignited by dunk down the lane by Tony Cates, to open the second half, and Monroe held on for the 54-46 win in the WIAA Division 2 regional finals.
The third-ranked Cheesemakers (21-2) advance to the Sun Prairie Sectional and face Wisconsin Dells (18-4) in a semifinal game at 7 p.m. Friday at Waunakee.
Edgerton’s Rock Valley co-championship season ended at 20-3, the Crimson Tide’s second 20-win season in five years, but not before the state’s eighth-ranked Division 2 team battled Monroe down to the final 36 seconds.
“We were hoping to get them frustrated and keep it close and maybe get a break going down the stretch,” Wanless said. “Normally, we get to the free throw line, but tonight that didn’t happen, and they knocked down their free throws.”
The Cheesemakers, in fact, won the game by making 25 of 30 free throws, while Edgerton made four of nine.
Monroe reached the regional finals by blistering Evansville, the other Rock Valley co-champion, 71-27, in a more up-tempo game.
Edgerton slowed the game and tried to take utilize of its height advantage, but opened the second half with two straight turnovers and suffered two fouls in the first four possessions of the second half. Monroe countered by scoring the first seven points of the second half and led 30-23 after Cates’ rebound put-back.
Cates and Mitch Tordorf combined for all of Monroe’s 19 third-quarter points. Both finished with a game-high 15 points as Tordoff had 11 in the third quarter, including two three-pointers, and Cates added eight.
“We played terrible in the first half,” Tordoff said. “We needed to come out and establish the tempo.”
Despite trailing 36-29 after three quarters, Edgerton kept the heat on Monroe. Travis Towns’ three-point goal and Gabe Mitchell’s backcourt steal and lay-up brought the Tide within 36-34.
Cates answered with a three-point play, and the Tide did not score for another 3:19 as Monroe gained a 44-34 advantage. Edgerton bounced back again, however, on Mitchell’s back-to-back baskets and Derek Carrier’s three-pointer that cut Monroe lead to 48-44 with 45 seconds left.
Towns was called for a foul, though, going for a tipped back-court pass on the ensuing possession. Tordoff made two free throws with 36 second left to keep Monroe in front.
The Cheesemakers made all eight of their free throws in the last minute to finally secure the victory over their former longtime Badger Conference rival.
“We haven’t had a lot of these grind-it-out games, but I really think our conference helped us,” Monroe coach Pat Murphy said of his team’s Badger Conference schedule. “We play Verona in this gym, and all that stuff adds up to good things on our behalf.”
But it still wasn’t a bad finish to an outstanding Edgerton season.
Bryan Gregory led the Crimson Tide with 14 points, while Carrier added 13.
“We tried to slow the game down and give them less possessions,” Towns said. “We had them frustrated, and we thought we had them. But they got hot, and good teams do that.”
MONROE 54, EDGERTON 46
Monroe (54)—M. Tordoff, 3-7-15; Stangel, 28-12; Gross, 2-3-8; Cates, 6-3-15; Sellnow, 0-3-3; Turek, 0-1-1. Totals: 13-25-54.
Edgerton (46)—Laskowski, 0-0-0; Carrier, 6-0-13; Towns, 2-2-7; Ludwig, 1-0-2; Gregory, 6-2-14; Eastman, 1-0-2; Mitchell, 4-0-8. Totals: 20-4-46.
Monroe 13 4 19 18—54
Edgerton 10 9 10 17—46
Three-point goals—Monroe 3 (M. Tordoff 2, Gross), Edgerton 2 (Carrier, Towns). Free throws missed—Monroe 5, Edgerton 5. Total fouls—Monroe 10, Edgerton 19.