Jaxson Zibell

Jaxson Zibell puts up a contested shot against La Follette on Tuesday night. Zibell had eight points in Waunakee's 71-56 loss to the top-ranked Lancers.

The Lancers are the top-ranked team in the state for a reason.

When La Follette stepped onto the Waunakee High School Fieldhouse on Tuesday night to play the Warrior boys’ basketball team, Waunakee knew it would take a complete game to pull off the upset. A couple runs by La Follette – including 8-0 runs to begin and end the first half – simply proved to be too much for the Warriors to overcome.

Madison La Follette 71,

Waunakee 56

“We pick all these non-conference games that we have to find out where we measure up against everybody in the state,” said Waunakee’s Head Coach Dana MacKenzie. “We’re finding out.”

The Lancers deployed an aggressive but disciplined man defense against the Warriors and were able to prevent Waunakee from getting onto the scoreboard for the first four minutes of the game. During that time, La Follette was able to build an 8-0 lead, which they later extended to 14-3.

Waunakee proved they were up for the challenge, however, storming back with a 13-2 run of their own – with 10 points coming from Caden Nelson and Andrew Keller during the three-minute stretch – to tie the game at 16. The Warriors were particularly effective at finding driving lanes into the paint, finishing at the rim often throughout the run.

The two teams remained close until La Follette closed the first half with another 8-0 run, taking a 28-20 lead into the locker room.

The Warriors continued to claw their way back as the second half opened. Midway through, La Follette’s lead stood at just three points: 40-37.

Unfortunately for Waunakee, the Lancers had one more game-clinching run in them. Over the next three minutes of action, La Follette went on a 14-1 run to effectively put the game out of reach.

Trailing 54-38, a pair of Nelson threes brought the Warriors to within 10 points, but a La Follette offense effective at drawing fouls cashed in at the charity stripe, going 10 for 12 from the free throw line in the final six minutes to put the game on ice.

“[La Follette’s] effort and their relentlessness was for 36 straight minutes; they’re going to be a tough team to beat all year because they just never stop…” added MacKenzie “I think [our guys] learned that playing at a high level for 36 minutes is different than playing that for 28 minutes. Our guys learned a lot; I think they’re going to respond really well over the next month.”

Nelson led the Warriors with 19 points, followed by Keller with 16. Jaxson Zibell added eight points, and Jake May tallied six. Drew Regnier had three points, while Evan May and Kaden Kruschek rounded out the scoring with two points apiece.

The loss was Waunakee’s third on the season, bringing their record to 11-3 (6-1 Badger North). The Warriors next hit the court on Saturday for the Badger Challenge, where they’ll square off against the Badger South-leading Cheesemakers of Monroe. Tip time at Edgewood High School is scheduled for 7:20 p.m.

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