Thanks to a zealous defensive effort and a fortunate break, the Beloit Turner boys basketball team will be able to stay home today.
Among other benefits, the Trojans can save some gas.
No. 3 Turner bolted to an early lead and led by double figures for most of Friday’s WIAA Division 3 regional semifinal against No. 6 Madison Edgewood. The Trojans won 63-49, leaning on their aggressive man-to-man defense and a balanced scoring assault to eliminate the Crusaders.
Turner (15-7) will host a regional final at 7 p.m. tonight against seventh-seeded Marshall, which scored an unlikely 70-68 win over second-seeded Platteville.
“It doesn’t matter to me necessarily who we play. I’m just happy we don’t have to drive two hours and that we get to play at home,” Turner coach Ken Watkins said.
The Trojans are 17-3 at home in the last two seasons and haven’t lost a home playoff game since 2015.
“We have as good an atmosphere as any small school in the state,” Watkins said. “This is a really tough place for visiting teams to play.
“If you haven’t played here before, it’s a whole different animal.”
Jordan Majeed led Turner with 16 points on 7-of-12 shooting. Dai’Vontrelle Strong had 15 points, while Steve Dillard added 14 points.
Word of Marshall’s upset began spreading around Turner’s packed gym in the final minutes of Friday’s game. Majeed heard the news while he was still on the court and then got to celebrate with the rest of Turner’s starters on the bench as they watched the team’s reserves finish off the game.
“This is good love, right here,” Majeed said of the energy in Turner’s gym Friday. “We heard with about two minutes left, so I was smiling on the court because we get this again tomorrow.”
Turner bolted to an early 7-0 lead and held Edgewood (12-12) without a field goal for almost five minutes to open the game.
The Crusaders eventually got going in the first half, even making seven straight shots at one point, but the Trojans never let their lead dwindle to fewer than four points.
D.J. Wash sank a fadeaway jumper at the buzzer to give Turner a 32-22 lead at halftime.
The Trojans kept up their intensity even once the outcome had been decided. Strong threw down a one-handed dunk with with less than three minutes to play after Majeed forced a turnover.
“We had the defensive energy all night,” Majeed said. “We felt like we’ve come together completely for the playoffs, and tonight we looked good defensively.”
Daniel James had 13 points off the bench to lead Edgewood, which shot 37.3 percent from the field and committed 10 turnovers.
The Crusaders had won five of their last six games and were coming off a comfortable 62-46 quarterfinal win over Richland Center.
Edgewood’s leading scorer, 6-foot-5 senior Michael Meriggioli, was limited to eight points on 3-of-9 shooting.
“Jordan, D.J. and Alden (Tinder), in particular, really did a good job on their top three scorers,” Watkins said. “None of those guys got anywhere close to their season averages.
“Our kids were really poised and focused all night long.”
TURNER 63, EDGEWOOD 49
Edgewood (49)—James 5-3-13, Drumm 0-1-1, Golden 1-0-2, Salzwedel 1-1-3, Regnier 2-0-4, Wendler 1-1-3, Jimenez 2-1-6, Meriggioli 3-1-8, Clark 1-1-3, Newton 1-0-2, Schmotzer 2-0-4. Totals: 19-9-49.
Turner (63)—Majeed 7-1-16, Wash 2-2-7, Marquardt 0-1-1, Draeving 5-0-10, Dillard 5-2-14, Strong 5-5-15. Totals: 24-11-63.
Edgewood 22 27—49
Beloit Turner 32 31—63
3-point goals—Edgewood 2 (Jimenez 1, Meriggioli 1), Turner 4 (Dillard 2, Majeed 1, Wash 1). Free throws missed—Edgewood 12, Turner 10. Total fouls—Edgewood 16, Turner 18.