Martin Luther’s boys basketball team spent most of the season ranked No. 1 in Division 3.
Saturday night in a WIAA in a sectional final game, the Spartans looked like one of the best teams in the state in any division.
Putting on an offensive clinic from the opening tip, Martin Luther rolled to a 76-41 win over Beloit Turner.
Martin Luther (23-3) advanced to state for the first time in program history and will likely be the No. 1 seed.
A stunned Turner team, which had beaten Rock Valley Conference rival Edgerton on Thursday to reach a sectional final for the first time in program history, finished 17-8.
Martin Luther could do little wrong in the first half. Behind junior sharpshooter Joey Immekus, the Spartans raced out to an 18-0 lead. Immekus, who led all of Division 3 players with 3-pointers made this season, hit back-to-back 3s to start the game. He finished with seven 3s, including five in the first half, and a game-high 26 points.
Turner trailed 25-3 with 10:59 to play in the half.
“I thought they’d play well but not that well,” Turner coach Ken Watkins said of Martin Luther. “They’re a very good team that also happened to play very well. I thought that if they shot the ball the way they did, there wasn’t going to be much we could do and that was the case.
“I would’ve liked to have seen us have a little more poise on offense, but I get it. You’re playing a team with that much talent, and when they jump on you right away, you really start to feel the pressure probably more than you should.”
The Spartans continued to push the pace of play at breakneck speed, and the Trojans could do nothing to stop it. The lead grew to 41-12 on Trequan Carrington’s steal and layup with 5:10 left in the half. The Spartans eventually led 46-20 at the break.
Martin Luther coach Paul Wollersheim said his team has an advantage come tournament time in Division 3 thanks to playing a difficult nonconference schedule that included several of the state’s top Division 1 and 2 teams.
“There’s no question our schedule made us a better team,” Wollersheim said. “The losses to Brookfield East and Central gave us a good indication of what we needed to work on to help us get to this point.
“Tonight, we hit some 3s early and were able to set the tone and get them on the back on their heels. What I’m most happy with is the fact that although things seemed to come easy for us early on, we didn’t then start settling on offense. We kept attacking and getting good shots.”
The onslaught continued in the second half for the Spartans. They used a 20-5 run to push the lead to 61-25 with 11:30 left. The lead eventually stretched to 40, as the last five minutes were played with a running clock.
Junior guard Jordan Majeed led Turner with 18 points.
With four starters back, Watkins knows his team has a lot to look forward to despite Saturday’s nightmarish end to the 2018-19 season.
“This team battled through a lot of adversity this season and just kept grinding,” Watkins said. “They”ll learn from this, put in the work in the offseason and be ready to go.”
MARTIN LUTHER 76, BELOIT TURNER 41
Martin Luther (76)—Evans, 5-1-11; Jones, 3-5-12; Carrington, 7-3-19; Harrison, 3-0-6; Immekus, 8-3-26; King, 1-0-2. Totals: 27-12-76.
Turner (41)—Majeed, 5-8-18; Wash Jr., 2-3-8; Draeving, 1-0-2; Dillard, 1-2-5; Strong, 3-1-7; Lomax, 0-1-1. Totals: 22-15-41.
Martin Luther 46 30—76
Beloit Turner 20 21—41
Three-point goals—Martin Luther 10 (Immekus 7, Carrington 2, Jones), Turner 2 (Dillard, Wash Jr.). Free throws missed—Martin Luther 3, Turner 7. Total fouls—Martin Luther 18, Turner 18.