Shoreland Lutheran wasn’t playing like a road underdog.
The eleventh-seeded Pacers made five of their first six field goals, including three 3-pointers, to take an early lead and quiet Beloit Turner’s fans. They were thinking upset.
Dai’Vontrelle Strong and the sixth-seeded Trojans had other ideas.
Strong led all players with 25 points, including a crowd-lifting dunk in the first half, and Sereno Ferone ignited a second-half surge as the Trojans pulled away for a 57-40 win in a WIAA Division 3 regional quarterfinal Tuesday that extended the team’s home winning streak to nine games.
Trailing 13-12 with 10 minutes left in the first half, Turner’s half-court trap forced a turnover. Strong beat several players to the ball and threw down a right-handed slam to give the Trojans their first lead since the opening minute.
“When I went up, I felt my arm over the rim high enough,” Strong said. “I was like, ‘Hey, it’s time to shine.’”
The 6-foot-5 sophomore was at his brightest in the first half, scoring 17 of his points to help Turner to a 27-25 lead.
“They didn’t really have an answer for him all night long,” Turner coach Ken Watkins said. “He took the ball hard to the basket, made a number of really nice moves. He’s a big reason why we’re playing Friday.”
Turner (16-7) improved to 9-1 at home, but to advance further, the Trojans will have to leave their gym to face third-seeded East Troy in a regional semifinal Friday. Turner handed the Rock Valley champions their only conference loss, 82-66, on Jan. 9. East Troy won the rematch, 65-40, on Feb. 19.
“It’s going to be a tight one,” Watkins said. “We’re going to be fired up. Our fans will travel well. It’s going to be one of those classic grinders.”
Ferone finished with 10 points, none bigger than a 3-pointer early in the second half that sparked a 19-4 run to help the Trojans separate from the Pacers. The senior hit the shot in front of Turner’s white-clad student section and gestured for the crowd to get loud. A few possessions later, while playing defense, Ferone went full-stretch to tip away a Shoreland pass, prompting another big cheer.
“You never have to do anything to get Sereno to play hard,” Watkins said. “It’s hustle plays like that that get everybody fired up.
“We can point to him all the time and say, ‘Match his energy.’ If we’ve got five guys that are playing with that energy we’re a tough team to beat.”
The Trojans will need that energy Friday if they want to pull the upset.
“It’s playoff season—win or go home,” Strong said.
Shoreland Lutheran (6-17) was held to 15 points in the second half. The Pacers shot 32.5 percent from the field, including 22.2 percent from 3-point range. Senior guard Noah Garcia led Shoreland Lutheran with 13 points and four 3s, all in the first half.
Turner shot 61.3 percent inside the arc and 52.3 percent overall.
TURNER 57, SHORELAND LUTHERAN 40
Shoreland (40)—Koker 0-2-2, Meinke 1-2-4, Tindall 2-1-6, Garcia 4-2-13, Wordell 4-0-8, Freitag 2-2-6, Lahti 0-1-1. Totals: 13-10-40.
Turner (57)—Reyes 3-1-7, Majeed 1-2-4, Strong 10-5-25, Buroker 1-0-2, Ferone 3-2-10, Dillard 2-0-5, Malkow 2-0-4. Totals: 22-10-57.
Shoreland 25 15—40
Turner 27 30—57
3-point goals—Shoreland 4 (Garcia 3, Tindall 1), Turner 2 (Ferone, Dillard). Free throws missed—Shoreland 6, Turner 5. Total fouls—Shoreland 19, Turner 21. Fouled out—Wash (Turner).