The plan worked to perfection.
With the game tied and 17 seconds left to play, DeForest coach Craig Weisbrod decided to put the ball in the hands of his son and junior point guard Max Weisbrod to let him try and win Thursday night’s WIAA Division 1 sectional semifinal game against Janesville Parker.
Fouled with five seconds left, Weisbrod made both free throws to lift the Norskies to a 69-67 victory and a berth in the sectional title game Saturday at Baraboo against Hartland Arrowhead.
Parker, which finished 18-9, got a good look from Brenden Weis to tie the game and force overtime, but the shot trickled out.
DeForest held the ball for the final two minutes before Weisbrod’s heroics at the end.
“Having Max at point guard really helps, because we don’t panic a lot when he has the ball,” coach Weisbrod said. “The plan wasn’t to run the clock all the way down originally, but once you get to about 45 seconds, you figure you’ve come this far, and we know we’ve got a pretty good free-throw shooter in Max.”
Parker played well to start the second half, taking its first lead of the game at 42-40 on Ethan Thompson’s 3-pointer with 15:27 left. The Vikings eventually pushed the lead to eight at 53-45 with 12:01 left on Matthew Hartwig’s layup.
DeForest fought back behind the 3 ball. Weisbrod and Trace Grundahl hit two 3s each to spark the comeback, and Grundahl’s basket with 4:36 left tied the game at 63-63.
The Vikings took their last lead at 65-63 on a Weis lay-in with 4:14 left.
DeForest tied the game at 65-65 on Deven Magli’s basket and went up 67-65 on two Weisbrod free throws with 2:50 left.
Weis got what turned out to be Parker’s final basket of the season to tie the game at 67-67 with 2:40 left. DeForest then held the ball until Weisbrod was fouled in the final seconds.
“I’m going to look back on that and think, ‘Should we have fouled somebody earlier and made them shoot free throws?’” Parker coach Matt Bredesen said. “But I’ll also stand by that is was an awful tough (foul) call to make at the end. It was a sectional game, and they’re going to call a hand check in that situation?
“When we got up by seven, though, we had three straight possessions where we lost the ball out of bounds on one and took two quick, not very good shots early in the possession.”
Robert DeLong played his best game of the season for Parker, finishing with 25 points.
He buried a deep 3 at the halftime buzzer to send the Vikings into the locker room tied at 33-33.
“There are a lot of what-ifs with this game, but you can’t take anything away from us,” DeLong said. “We played our hearts out. We gave it everything we had.”
Parker hurt itself early with turnovers, leading to six points off steals for DeForest. The Norskies’ biggest lead of the first half was six at 24-18 on a Weisbrod jumper with 5:06 left.
Josh Jansen sparked DeForest off the bench in the first half. The junior forward had 12 points, while Weisbrod added eight.
Weisbrod finished with 19 to lead DeForest, with Grundahl and Jansen adding 12 each.
Weis chipped in 16 for Parker, and Jacob Naber added 11.
DEFOREST 69, PARKER 67
Parker (67)—Vernon 1-0-2; Thompson 2-0-6; Galvan 1-0-3; DeLong 10-2-25; Conners 0-2-2; Hartwig 1-0-2; Naber 5-1-11; Weis 5-5-16. Totals: 25-10-67
DeForest (69)—4-0-8; Grundahl 4-2-12; Weisbrod 6-5-19; Jansen 6-0-12; Fredrickson 1-0-2; Magli 4-1-9; Hartwig 2-1-6. Totals: 27-9-69
Janesville Parker 33:34—67
DeForest 33 36—69
3-point goals—Parker 7 (DeLong 3, Thompson 2, Galvan, Weis), DeForest 6 (Weisbrod 3, Grundahl 2, Hartig). Free throws missed-Parker 4, DeForest 6. Total fouls—Parker 18, DeForest 15.