A minor halftime adjustment paid major dividends for Belleville High’s boys basketball team Thursday night.
Trailing by 13 at halftime in a WIAA Division 4 sectional semifinal game with Orfordville Parkview, Belleville coach Scott Noll decided to scrap his zone defense in favor of a man-to-man scheme.
The strategy worked to perfection as the Wildcats rallied for a 70-66 victory at Evansville High School.
“At halftime, we made the adjustment and said no more zone,” Noll said. “We told the guys we have to man up.”
Belleville (11-12) plays New Glarus on Saturday in Middleton for a trip to to the WIAA state tournament.
Parkview, which was outscored 44-27 in the second half, finished 17-7.
The Vikings were about ready to blow the Wildcats out of the gym in the first half.
Justin Balch made three of Parkview’s seven 3-pointers. The Vikings came out strong and built a 25-7 lead with 7:10 left on Balch’s third 3-pointer. And the lead was 39-26 at half, as Parkview hit on 50 percent of its shots (16-32) over the first 18 minutes.
“We knew what they ran and what they wanted to do offensively, but our game plan coming in was to stick with the zone,” Noll said. “Unfortunately, Parkview shot the ball too well from the outside to stick with it.
“And other than missing some free throws at the end, our execution was much better offensively the second half. The difference was we started going inside, and when we did that it opened up the outside.”
Belleville hardly missed a shot in the second half. The Wildcats began on a 12-2 run that whittled the 13-point deficit down to three in less than five minutes.
Junior Royce Clark was the difference for Belleville in the second half. The 6-foot-4 center had 18 of his game-high 24 points in the final 18 minutes, including two free throws with 1:47 left that gave his the team the lead for good at 63-61.
Parkview fell behind by five with 58 seconds left but cut the margin to three at 67-64 on Aydon Campbell’s offensive rebound and putback with 40 seconds left. A Clark free throw pushed the lead to four, and Austin Fahey sealed the win with two more free throws with 13 seconds left.
Parkview looked like a different team in the second half. The Vikings turned the ball over nine times and looked out of sync. They scored only five points in the first six minutes of the second half.
“They (Belleville) got hot like they did the first time we played them, and we just couldn’t step up,” Parkview coach Mike Striegl said. “The 3-point shot has changed the game so drastically, and you saw that the second half.
“A 10- to 15-point lead is not as safe as it used to be.”
Belleville made four 3-pointers in the second half after not making any in the first.
Balch had 18 points to lead four Vikings in double figures. Eli Hoscheit and Adrian Meza had 13 points each, while Campbell added 12.
Unfortunately for the Vikings, a magical season that included the program’s first regional title since 1966 ended because of a disappearing act in the second half.
BELLEVILLE 70, PARKVIEW 66
Belleville (70)—A. Fahey 5-4-17; Schulting 1-0-2; Gratz 2-0-4; S. Fahey 6-5-17; Clark 10-3-24; Winkers 1-2-4; Shrader 1-0-2. Totals: 26-14-70
Parkview (66)—Meza 4-2-13; Campbell 6-0-12; Hoscheit 5-2-13; Balch 7-0-18; Brown 2-0-6; Crane 1-0-2; Simonson 1-0-2. Totals: 26-4-66
Belleville 26 44—70
Orfordville Parkview 39 27—66
3-point goals—Belleville 4 (A. Fahey 3, Clark), Parkview 10 (Balch 4, Meza 3, Brown 2, Hoscheit). Free throws missed—Belleville 12, Parkview 3. Total fouls—Belleville 11, Parkview 19. Fouled out—Campbell