Jordan Johnson was Elkhorn’s go-to guy all season.
The junior point guard led the Southern Lakes Conference in scoring and was a WBCA all-state first-team selection in Division 2.
On Thursday night, Johnson’s supporting cast was the difference in a WIAA Division 2 sectional semifinal game.
Devin Davey scored 21 points and Nick Brown added 20 as Elkhorn pulled away from Waukesha West for a 69-63 victory.
Elkhorn finished the season 21-4. A few hours after the game, the WIAA announced the remainder of the boys tournament would be canceled due to the outbreak of coronavirus.
The Elks were looking to advance to state for the second straight year.
Waukesha West (13-12) cut a 10-point halftime deficit down to two early in the second half but had no answer over the final 15 minutes for Davey and Brown.
Brown, a senior and UW-Parkside recruit, had 16 points in the second half.
“When we share the basketball like we did tonight, we’re a pretty tough team to beat,” Brown said. “And that’s been our story all season.
“That was the key to our success last year, and that’s been the key to our success this year.”
The Wolverines’ 8-0 run to start the second half sliced the lead to 33-31 with 14:21 to play.
The Elks answered back with a 15-4 run, capped off by Davey’s steal and layup that made it 48-35 with 9:41 to play. Brown hit two 3s to key the rally.
Trailing by 13, Waukesha West twice cut its deficit to five but could get no closer. Elkhorn hit 15 of 20 free throws in the second half, including Brown going 8-for-8.
Elkhorn coach Josh Skatrud said his team’s tournament experience paid off.
“You’ve got to trust your guys, and I do,” Skatrud said. “We knew they were going to make a run at us the second half, and I told our guys that at halftime. But rather than take a timeout when they did, I let them work their way out of it.
“If they think I’m panicking, they’ll start panicking. I have enough faith in them to know that”
Elkhorn started strong. The Elks made 10 of their first 14 shots and took a 27-13 lead on Brown’s jumper with 5:57 left in the first half.
Waukesha West (13-12) responded behind Cam Palesse with an 8-0 spurt to cut the lead to six, but the Elks scored the last four points of the half to lead 33-23.
Elkhorn’s Erik Van Dyke finished with 15 points, including 13 in the first, on three 3s.
Palesse had 29 points to lead the Wolverines.
The game was played before a sparse crowd due to restrictions placed by the WIAA. Each team was allotted 88 tickets for the game. I received one of Elkhorn’s 88 tickets to serve as a its media representative.
And although the atmosphere was livelier than I had thought it would be, it was still a strange setup.
“It was just a strange day all around,” Skatrud said. “We weren’t sure what the status was of the game once the NCAA starting canceling everything this morning.
“But once the ball was bounced, it was just basketball. And although it was kind of a weird atmosphere, it was still a lot of fun.”
Brown said not playing was the last thing he wanted to happen.
“I’m a senior and couldn’t imagine the season ending that way,” Brown said. “But like coach said, once the game started, I thought we brought a lot of energy.
“I’m just hoping they’ll let us play Saturday and we can get back to state.”
ELKHORN 69, WAUKESHA WEST 63
Waukesha West (63)—Palesse, 10-8-29; Hetzel, 1-0-2; Rhodes, 5-0-12; Skogman, 4-0-11; Krohn, 3-0-9. Totals: 23-8-63.
Elkhorn (69)—Johnson, 4-3-11; Van Dyke, 5-2-15; Davey, 8-3-21; Stebnitz, 1-0-2; Brown, 5-8-20. Totals: 23-16-69.
Waukesha West 23 40—63
Elkhorn 33 36—69
3-point goals—WW 9 (Palesse, Rhodes 2, Skogman 3, Krohn 3), E 7 (Van Dyke 3, Davey 2, Brown 2). Free throws missed—WW 1, E 6. Total fouls—WW 20, E 11. Fouled out—Ziebell (WW).