Janesville61.6°

Warhawk men win WIAC basketball title outright

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Tim Wester/Special to the Gazette
February 24, 2008
— Pat Miller, UW-Whitewater men’s basketball coach, admitted his team was tight with a WIAC regular-season championship at stake against UW-River Falls.

Fortunately for the Warhawks, Kori Vernon finally eased the tension with 17 second-half points and propelled Whitewater to an WIAC undisputed title with a hard-fought 80-75 victory over the Falcons here Saturday afternoon at Kachel Gym.


Whitewater’s victory, plus Platteville’s 84-65 win over UW-Stevens Point (20-5, 12-4), gave the Warhawks (21-4, 13-3) their second outright championship in three years.


“I was actually, for the first time in my life, other than when I went to school there, routing for Platteville to win so we get the outright title and the one seed in the WIAC tournament.” Miller said.


“Now we have to handle the conference tournament first, because the NCAA tournament is not a given unless you win the conference tournament. Otherwise, you’re at the mercy of the process.”


Vernon finished with a game-high 26 points, while Myles McKay added 17, and Matt Goodwin and Janesville Craig graduate Josh King got 14 apiece to give Whitewater the top seed in the WIAC tourney.


The Warhawks host UW-Stout (7-18, 4-12) at 7 p.m. Monday in the WIAC tournament’s opening round. They will be at home throughout the tournament, providing they win.


The Falcons shot an impressive 65 percent in the first half and battled Whitewater to a 40-40 tie.


“I felt we played a little tight,” Miller said. “I think guys didn’t adhere to our principles well, and there was a little bit of tightness.”


Vernon finally loosened things with nine quick points to put Whitewater ahead 50-46 with 16 minutes left.


The Falcons, however, withstood Vernon’s surge and grabbed a 65-60 lead with 8:36 to play.


The Warhawks immediately responded with consecutive three-pointers from McKay and Goodwin to reclaim the lead at 66-65.


Whitewater opened a 75-69 lead, before the Falcons got within 77-75 with a minute to play. But the Falcons (9-16, 3-13) failed to score the rest of the way, and they fell out of contention after McKay and King drained four free throws to put Whitewater in control at 79-73 with 16 seconds remaining.


“We shot 60 percent and lose,” River Falls coach Jeff Berkhof said.


WHITEWATER 80, RIVER FALLS 75


River Falls (75)—Kelly 0-3 0-0 0, Hannigan 5-10 0-0 11, Davis 4-6 0-0 8, Robertson 4-5 0-0 8, Wright 7-11 2-5 19, Elling 3-5 2-2 8, Whittenberger 1-2 0-0 3, Guerin 1-2 0-0 3, Compton 2-3 0-0 4, Voeltz 5-6 1-1 11. Totals: 32-53 5-8 75.


Whitewater (80)—Goodwin 5-11 1-2 14, McKay 4-12 8-10 17, Koski 0-1 1-2 1, King 5-9 4-5 14, Vernon 10-13 4-6 26, Negri 0-1 0-0 0, Kolinske 3-5 2-2 8. Totals: 27-52 20-27 80.


UW-River Falls 40 35—75


UW-Whitewater 40 40—80


Three-point goals—River Falls 6-14 (Kelly 0-1, Hannigan 1-2, Davis 0-2, Wright 3-6, Whittenberger 1-1, Guerin 1-1, Compton 0-1), Whitewater 6-12 (Goodwin 3-6, McKay 1-2, Koski 0-1, Vernon 2-2, Negri 0-1). Fouled out—none. Rebounds—River Falls 23 (Voeltz 4), Whitewater 29 (King 6). Assists—River Falls 14 (Wright 4), Whitewater 14 (Koski 8). Total fouls—River Falls 21, Whitewater 10.



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