Since the Muskego boys basketball team has been dealing with missing key players because of injuries, there hasn’t been much time for the Warriors to gel as a unit. But with senior guard Ryan Wikel and sophomore forward Stu Vent back at full strength, No. 5 Muskego showed it could take some punches and shake them off in a hurry when they defeated No. 13 Madison West, 79-65, in overtime Friday night to advance to the WIAA Division 1 regional final game.
Madison West delivered a buzzer beater at the end of regulation to knot the score, but Vent, Muskego dominated the overtime.
“We’re lucky to get out of there with a win, but we really did a good job, especially in overtime of gathering ourselves and playing the way we should,” Muskego coach Andy Capes said. “It’s a lesson on how to keep your composure, and we have a lot of really young guys – a lot of guys who hadn’t played in playoff games much at all.”
The Warriors (19-4) jumped out to a 34-21 at halftime led by Wikel’s 10 points. More importantly, Muskego managed to contain Madison West senior guard Terrell Carey to just 4 points in the first half, while senior guard Simeon Parker added 10 of his own for the Regents.
Madison West (7-16) entered the second half looking like a new team, ramping up the intensity that kept Wikel scoreless until he hit a free throw with less than 4 minutes remaining. The Warriors struggled to score against the Regents’ man-to-man defense, which forced numerous turnovers and saw bodies flying to the ground in every direction, even as sophomore guard A.J. Makinen scored 8 of his team-high 22 points in the half.
The result was a 28-12 run that culminated with a Carey bucket to give the Regents a 49-46 lead with 4 minutes, 51 seconds left in regulation. During that span, Parker scored 15 of his game-high 27 points.
Muskego led by as many as four in the final 2 minutes of regulation, but the Regents forced back to back turnovers to stay within 1 with 48 seconds to play. Two more Wikel free throws gave the Warriors a 62-59 lead with 5.8 seconds left, but Madison West’s Xavier Miller drilled a game-tying 3-pointer at the buzzer to send the game to overtime – not without some controversy.
The scoreboard operator had erroneously shorted Muskego a point before the final shot was made, giving the impression Miller’s long-range bucket won the game for the Regents. After officials cleared up the score, the squads started overtime, and Muskego regained its dominance.
Vent took over overtime for the Warriors, scoring 7 of his 20 points in the period and drawing Parker’s fifth foul to send him to the bench. Muskego would win the game from the charity stripe, draining 30-of-36 attempts compared to the Madison West’s 6-of-17 performance.
“That fact that we’re together is really important because all of our chemistry is going and we’re getting in practice together again,” Vent said. “We’re getting the flow of the game back.”
Muskego winning the physical contest after coughing up a comfortable lead and giving up a buzzer beater has given Capes faith that his young squad can take its lumps moving forward. The Warriors will need that scar tissue as they take host No. 4 Beloit Memorial, who defeated Verona, 82-68, to advance to the regional final.
“The intensity is so much higher, and it got to them a bit at some parts of the game,” Capes said. “But that experience alone is going to pay big dividends for them.”