Riding a five-game win streak, the Waunakee boys’ basketball had the chance to clinch the Badger North title outright on Friday night if they could win a sixth.
Standing in their way were the Vikings of Mount Horeb. The Vikings were able to hold off a determined late rally from the Warriors to snap their streak and deal Waunakee their second conference loss of the season.
Mount Horeb 77,
The situation appeared bleakest for the Warriors with 6:39 left to play in the game. Mount Horeb had just sank a pair of free throws to take a 16-point, 62-48 lead.
The Vikings built their lead by virtue of a red-hot shooting night from beyond the arc; seven three-pointers came in the first 12 minutes of the second half.
“They made shots; man did they make shots…” said Waunakee’s Head Coach Dana MacKenzie. “It was unguardable the way they were shooting.”
The Warriors fought to ensure there would be no runaway victory for the visiting Vikings, however. Sparked by a pair of Jack Dotzler layups, the Warriors began their comeback.
Down 12, threes from Caden Hough (thrice), Casey Fischer, Jaxson Zibell and Caden Nelson - along with an opportunistic defensive effort - cut the lead down to five points.
A layup by Andrew Keller on the possession following Nelson's three finally cut it to a one-score game: 74-71.
That’s where the comeback came to a sudden halt. The Warriors turned the ball over twice over the last 26 seconds, and Mount Horeb hit three of their last four free throws to put the game on ice.
“They’re never going to quit,” said MacKenzie on what his team showed in the game. “There was a lot on the line… They played better than us; credit to Mount Horeb.”
Waunakee led for much of the first half by as many as seven points. A cold stretch to end the half – Mount Horeb closed on an 11-0 run over the final six minutes before halftime – contributed significantly to Waunakee’s need for a comeback.
Nelson led the Warriors with 16 points on the night, followed by 14 from Hough, 12 from Zibell and Keller and eight from Fischer. Dotzler tallied eight, while Jake May rounded out the scoring with two points.
Waunakee, now 16-5 (11-2 Badger North) will have one more shot to clinch the Badger North Conference outright when they welcome Reedsburg into the Waunakee High School Fieldhouse next Thursday. Tip time against the Beavers is scheduled for 7:15 p.m.