East Troy boys clinch title tie
The Rock Valley Conference probably just wants to see a cut in talented basketball players at East Troy High School.
East Troy (19-1, 13-1) clinched a tie for of third straight Rock Valley North boys championship and fifth straight conference title overall with a 65-54 victory over second-place McFarland (15-5, 12-2) here Thursday night.
Tanner Plomb had a game-high 18 points, while Brett Prahl and Nate Dodge had 15 and 13, respectively, to help the Trojans improve their conference record to 44-2 overall and 23-0 at home since joining the Rock Valley in 2008.
“I’m going to be honest. You’re good when you have good players, and that’s the bottom line,” said East Troy coach Darin Lottig, whose team is No. 4 in the AP Division 3 state ratings. “It’s not the coaches. It’s the players. I have no secrets to coaching at all.”
It also wasn’t a secret that McFarland had the Trojans on the ropes midway through the fourth quarter.
Spartan forward Derek Patten’s putback capped a 9-4 run that drew McFarland even at 44-44 with 5:12 left in the game.
But the Trojans quickly answered the challenge with a 9-0 spurt, capped by Myles Olsen’s three-pointer that put his team ahead 53-44 with 3:10 to play.
The Spartans drew as close as six on Brett Kaether’s fourth three-pointer with three minutes to play, but the team went cold after that.
“We didn’t hit shots down the stretch,” McFarland coach Jeff Meinholdt said. “I don’t think our kids ran out of gas, but our kids left it all on the floor. They (the Trojans) hit shots and free throws down the stretch, and I give them a lot of credit.”
Despite falling short, the Spartans controlled the tempo for much of the game.
McFarland’s trademark pressure defense played a key role in helping the Spartans hold a 16-14 edge after the first quarter.
“Their pressure bothered us tonight,” Lottig said. “And that’s something we need to address, because our playoff will be full of quick teams.”
East Troy finally kick-started its offense with a 9-2 run to open a 23-18 lead midway through the second quarter. The Spartans, however, continued to grind away and were within 27-24 by halftime.
The game remained close in the third quarter, with East Troy maintaining the upper hand, 40-35, heading into the final eight minutes.
East Troy eventually solved the Spartan pressure defense and rolled up a 25-point fourth quarter to pull out the hard-fought victory.
“East Troy has won before, and it gets contagious,” Meinholdt said. “We’re proud of the fact that we were right there with a top-10 team in the state and were just a couple possessions away from making this a close game.”
EAST TROY 65, McFARLAND 54
McFarland (54)—Kaether, 4-2-14; Runde, 3-3-9; Schluter, 6-1-7; Peterson, 2-0-5; Ewelt, 1-0-2; Patten, 2-4-8; Wedel, 3-2-9. Totals: 21-12-54.
East Troy (65)—Olsen, 3-1-8; Dodge, 3-6-13; Plomb, 7-2-18; Jones, 3-1-4; B. Prahl, 5-5-15; Sweet, 1-0-2; A. Prahl, 1-3-5. Totals: 23-18-65.
McFarland 16 8 11 19 - 54
East Troy 14 13 13 25 - 65
Three point goals—McFarland 6 (Kaether 4, Peterson, Wedel), East Troy 5 (Olsen, Plomb 2, Dodge, Jones). Free throws missed—McFarland 8, East Troy 10. Total fouls—McFarland 19, East Troy 13. Fouled out —Schluter, Ewelt, B. Prahl