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Lost at sea

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JOHN N. BARRY
March 20, 2009
— The Beloit Memorial postseason cruise ship got shipwrecked Thursday night.

The Bay Port Pirates, behind 23 points from Jake Hottenstine, jumped out to an early lead and sailed to a 71-62 victory in a WIAA Division 1 boys basketball quarterfinal game at the Kohl Center.


The unbeaten Pirates (24-0) will play top-ranked Madison Memorial in tonight’s second semifinal game at approximately 8:15.


The Purple Knights (18-6) were denied the school’s first state-tournament win since 1978.


“We missed a lot of shots early and got beat down the court,” Beloit coach Jay Bryant said. “We dug ourselves a hole, and even though I knew we’d come back because we’re a good team, we missed a couple of shots or turned the ball over when we got it close.


“Bay Port was here last year, and I think that experience paid off.”


Beloit trailed by eight after three quarters, but trimmed the margin to three on Sharod Stone’s putback with 3:13 to play. The Pirates answered with three straight free throws to push the lead back to six with 1:28 to play, and finished the game by making their last eight free throws to keep the Knights at bay.


“I told the guys before the game that we have to keep coming after them and coming after them because we have more depth,” Bay Port coach Nate Rykal said. “And I think we did that. We wore them down.


“We showed that we can get up and down the floor, but we also showed we can be disciplined and run clock.”


The first half was a lesson in futility for Beloit. The Purple Knights misfired on 21 of 32 shots from the field, including a 5-for-16 effort in the second quarter.


The Pirates, who came into the state tournament leading all Division 1 teams with 151 three-point baskets, didn’t have the one first half. They didn’t need one after shooting 53 percent (17-for-32) from the field and dishing out 11 assists.


With the game tied 11-11, the Pirates went on a 15-2 run to take control. The uprising began on Brad Utech’s jumper with 3:38 left in the first quarter, and Marcus Ruh’s fastbreak layup with 6:20 left in the half capped the run. Beloit went 1-for-12 during the scoring drought.


Beloit had not been forced to play from behind all season and it showed. The Knights rushed shots and never got into any rhythm the first half. K.J. Evans, the team’s leading scorer in three postseason games, was held scoreless the first half and didn’t score until 1:05 remained in the third quarter. Evans finished with only four points while Stone led the Purple Knights with 24.


With Big Eight Conference rival Madison Memorial on tap for the winner, Bryant said his team was definitely not looking past the Pirates in hopes of getting a third shot at the Spartans.


“Our kids we’re excited to be here and excited to play this game,” Bryant said of Bay Port. “We weren’t even thinking about Memorial.


“We just gave up too many easy baskets by not getting down the floor and dug ourselves too big of a hole.”


Branden Tachick added 16 for the Pirates, while Marcus Ruh chipped in 10 points, six assists and finished with zero turnovers while directing the offense.


Jahlil Smith was the only other Purple Knight in double figures as the junior finished with 17 points.



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